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Monday, September 22, 2014, 11:33 p.m.
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Don't wait to rule on power-line plan, group requests

By Bill Bowden

This article was published July 31, 2014 at 4:20 a.m.

A group that opposes a proposed high-voltage transmission line through Benton and Carroll counties has asked the Arkansas Public Service Commission to deny the application and close the docket on the project.

Mick G. Harrison of Bloomington, Ind., an attorney for Save the Ozarks, sent a letter to the commission on Tuesday saying landowners shouldn't be left in limbo until January while the Southwest Power Pool conducts a new study regarding the need for the transmission line.

"Landowners have been facing loss of both property and property values," wrote Harrison. "Many have held back on implementing plans they had for their properties."

The Southwest Power Pool will conduct the new study "in parallel" with its regular transmission plan study for 2015, according to a letter David Matthews of Rogers sent the commission July 3.

Matthews is the attorney for Southwestern Electric Power Co., which is a member of the Southwest Power Pool's regional transmission organization.

SWEPCO is required to build transmission projects within its service area if the Southwest Power Pool determines they are necessary. The pool is mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale prices of electricity in its nine-state region.

SWEPCO applied with the commission on April 3, 2013, to build the 345-kilovolt power line from Centerton to near Berryville, saying it's needed to ensure reliable electric service to the growing areas of Northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri.

After several public meetings and about 6,000 written public comments against the transmission line, the 56-mile Route 109 was approved Jan. 17.

Save the Ozarks and SWEPCO both requested rehearings. SWEPCO appealed because it preferred the 49-mile Route 33.

Save the Ozarks argues that the power line would harm the environment and tourism. Six towers, each 130 feet to 160 feet high, would be needed every mile to support the power line, according to SWEPCO's proposal. A 150-foot-wide right of way also would be required along the route.

The three-member commission issued an order June 9 saying it will reconsider whether the power line is needed and, if so, decide the best route. Alternative options and environmental impact will also be considered.

Metro on 07/31/2014

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