Thursday, October 03, 2013
There were a flurry of filings Oct. 1 in the case of the American Electric Power (AEP)/Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) application for a Shipe Road to Kings River high voltage transmission line that has been heavily opposed by residents of Northwest Arkansas.
On Sept. 11, Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) Administrative Law Judge Connie Griffin asked all parties in the case to file legal briefs that address three issues: 1) the need for the facilities, 2) the sufficiency of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in relation to Arkansas law, and 3) the sufficiency of the analysis of the projected economic or financial impact on the applicant and the local community.
More than 20 briefs were filed Oct. 1 in the case. The applicant, AEP/SWEPCO, states it has satisfied all the Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (CECPN) application requirements. “There is substantial evidence supporting each criterion on which this Commission must make its determination,” AEP/SWEPCO states. “A CECPN is appropriate and should be granted for the proposed project.
Here is a summary of some of the conclusions in the SWEPCO brief:
- In this docket, the application, pre-filed direct, rebuttal and sur-surrebuttal testimony as well as oral testimony at the hearing before this commission have amply established the need for this project.
- The proposed 345 kV transmission line is needed to ensure reliability in the North Arkansas area and has been called for by SWEPCO’s governing Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).
- SPP’s Ozark Transmission Study found potential for numerous voltage violations and overloaded lines across the North Arkansas area. The 2007 SPP Transmission Expansion Plan (STEP) analyzed the reliability requirements through models and load forecasting and identified the need for a new 345 kV transmission line from the Flint Creek generation facility to Shipe Road in Benton County, Arkansas, to the area near the existing Osage Creek Station in Carroll County. SPP issued a Notification to Construct (NTC) on February 13, 2008 that identified and mandated the 345 kV transmission line and station proposed in this Docket with an in-service date of June 2016.
- Subsequent annual STEPs have retained the proposed project because it continues to be needed for reliability and to relieve congestion and overloaded transmission facilities. As an RTO-member, SWEPCO is responsible to build transmission projects within its footprint as identified by SPP.
- The proposed Shipe Road to Kings River 345-kilovolt transmission line will alleviate a fairly significant potential overload on the Beaver Dam to Eureka Springs line during outages of the Flint Creek to Brookline and Blackberry to Jasper lines. There are also a number of facilities that are subject to overloads… including Osage Creek, Berryville, Green Forest and Green Forest South. There are also low voltage concerns at Eureka Springs, Grandview, Osage Creek, Berryville and Green Forest.
- SWEPCO’s application in this Docket specifically discusses the economic and financial impacts to the ratepayers, the local community and to itself, as the applicant. …Construction of the proposed facilities will have little economic impact upon the local community. In the application itself and through pre-filed direct, rebuttal and sur-surrebuttal testimony and in oral testimony before the Commission, SWEPCO has repeatedly provided proof that the proposed transmission line will have a negligible impact on the local community economies and on tourism in the region.
- Contrary to the Save the Ozark Intervenors’ contentions, nowhere in the CECPN statute is the Environmental Impact Statement required to evaluate the financial and/or economic impact on local communities.
- Intervenors in this Docket have expressed concerns that the proposed transmission project will have negative economic impacts on nearby communities, including negatively impacting tourism. For example, STO witness James DeVito claims that he will “most likely” be economically harmed by the transmission line, and fellow STO witness Mike Bishop opined that the transmission line “could be nothing but bad” for tourism. Yet none of the STO or other intervenor witnesses provided any evidence proving that a negative impact would occur to either economies or tourism in the communities near the transmission line. None of the intervenors have provided any evidence that a transmission line has impacted tourism in Arkansas, or anywhere else for that matter. SWEPCO, on the other hand, offered multiple examples of transmission lines co-existing with designated state and federal scenic by-ways, national park and recreation areas.
- The Shipe Road to Kings River Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) satisfies every requirement of Arkansas statute; is comparable to EIS documents prepared for previously approved projects; and, the EIS is in every way sufficient under Arkansas law.
- The proposed project will be beneficial to other electric systems. Witnesses for Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. and Entergy Arkansas, Inc. both testified that the proposed transmission facility would increase reliability and increase AECC’s and Entergy’s capacity to reliably serve growing consumer demand within its service territory. Furthermore, SPP Witness Lanny Nickell testified that the proposed project is needed for both reliability and capacity within SPP’s footprint.
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