SWEPCO’s project does not have the approval of the Arkansas Public Service Commission. In Order 36, issued in June of 2014, the Commission vacated the earlier approval of the project granted in Order 32 and Order 33.
In Order 36, the Commission found that “the record is presently insufficient to determine: the need for the particular 345 kV project that has been proposed …,” thus confirming Save the Ozark’s claim that SWEPCO had failed to prove a need for its project. Despite being directed by Arkansas law to do so, the Commission did not “conclude the proceedings as expeditiously as practicable” with Order 36. Instead the Commission gave SWEPCO the opportunity to make a third attempt to prove a need for its project by asking for a comprehensive reevaluation of the need for the project, as well as almost all other important aspects.
In Order 36, the Commission also noted that a procedural schedule would be issued. However, after four months, the Commission still has not produced a procedural schedule indicating if or when the proceeding will continue. Meanwhile, SWEPCO informed the Commission that the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) has taken responsibility for the reevaluation and will devote 6-7 months to its completion so this new evidence will not be submitted to the Commission until sometime in 2015.
Once SPP provides the Commission and all other parties, including STO, with its comprehensive reevaluation, the ensuing process seems likely to be at least as lengthy, laborious and costly as that for SWEPCO’s initial application.
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