Thursday, August 15, 2013
As the Aug. 26 hearing date approaches before the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) for the Shipe Road to Kings River application by American Electric Power (AEP) subsidiary Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), both AEP/SWEPCO and its opponents, including witnesses for Save The Ozarks (STO), have fired over the bow with written arguments that include direct testimony, rebuttal testimony and testimony answering rebuttals, called subrebuttals.
AEP/SWEPCO continues to maintain that its project, estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $117 million with $20 million for a Kings River Substation, is needed and should be approved by the APSC to be paid for by ratepayers. But STO is adamant that conditions simulated in the 2007 Ozarks Regional Transmission study that led the Southern Power Pool (SPP) to issue a notice to construct to AEP/SWEPCO for the project no longer exist. And STO expert witness, Dr. Hyde Merrill, said even if concerns about power line overloading did exist, there are alternatives far less costly and damaging to the environment.
In subrebuttal testimony, AEP/SWEPCO’s witness, Joseph Paul Hassink, said arguments presented by Merrill and Jeffrey W. Danos of Eureka Springs, an intervenor in the case, “on the surface may appear to be reasonable, but in reality fall short of assessing the full scale of the need for the proposed transmission facilities. In addition, both propose short-term solutions that would have a negative impact on the long-term reliability of the transmission grid in the North Arkansas region.”
Hassink said Merrill fails to recognize that the generation and transmission infrastructure for North Arkansas and Southern Missouri has not changed since 2007.
While projections of load have changed during this time period, load has continued to grow,” Hassink said. “As such, the fundamental assumptions underlying both the SPP Ozarks Transmission Study and the SPP Transmission Expansion Plan 2008-2017 remain sound.”
Hassink concluded the proposed electrical facilities are required to “eliminate the risks to reliability in North Arkansas.”
Although many people have assumed the power line project has to do with having larger voltage lines because of more power demand, Hassink is clear in his subrebuttal testimony that the proposal is to prevent overloads of the existing Beaver to Eureka Springs 161 kilovolt (kV) line and East Rogers to Avoca 161 kV lines which could be caused by problems such as an ice storm or tornado, or if one line is down for maintenance when the other line goes out. “National American Electric Reliability Corp. standards require that SPP and SWEPCO resolve these future overloads,” Hassink said.
But Merrill says APSC should deny the project for three reasons:
- The need for some action is significantly weaker than what was found in the 2007 studies. The supposed need for the line was to solve a problem that no longer exists.
- Neither SPP nor AEP/SWEPCO has presented any evidence of having considered in a meaningful way any alternative to this project. It is not logical to conclude a solution is best if no other solution is considered. That is particularly true when the problem, as it is perceived in 2013, is so different from the problem for which the project was approved by SPP in 2008.
- It is vital to review planned projects regularly, which means re-evaluating whether there is a reliability need to do something. Hassink said that it would be wasteful and ineffective to re-evaluate pending plans. “Mr. Hassink is simply wrong,” Merrill said. “Avoiding just one $100 million line that became unneeded due to changing circumstances would pay for a lot of studies.”
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