The Shipe Road – Kings River Project is a proposal by Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) to construct a 345,000-volt transmission line across the Ozark Highlands. The transmission line is planned to begin at SWEPCO’s Shipe Road Substation, now under construction west of Bentonville in Benton County, and end at a new substation to be constructed on the Kings River between Eureka Springs and Berryville in Carroll County. Depending on the route, the transmission line will traverse 50 to 60 miles of the fragile karst terrain in the heart of the Ozarks.
SWEPCO submitted this proposal to the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) for its approval on April 3, 2013. In late March and early April, SWEPCO also sent a letter of notification to many but not all of the hundreds of people who own land the utility company plans to take for its transmission line right-of-way. The landowners learned that they could take part in the APSC decision-making process that could end in loss of their property rights and change their lives forever only by filing formal petitions within 30 days of April 3.
Save the Ozarks (STO), along with more than 35 landowners and groups of landowners, managed to meet the APSC’s 30-day deadline. Much testimony was submitted by SWEPCO and its allies as well as by STO and other opponents of SWEPCO’s plan. The APSC held two public comment hearings and a lengthy formal hearing, which was followed by more motions and submissions.
At this time, the APSC has issued 36 orders, including Order 32 and Order 33, giving its approval to SWEPCO’s project, which were followed four months later by Order 36, revoked that approval. Today, almost 18 months after SWEPCO submitted its application for approval of its Shipe Road – Kings River Project, the APSC has not yet made a final decision. Given the likely course of events, the APSC’s final decision to approve or deny this project is not expected for another year or more.
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