What is the route of this extra-high voltage transmission line? There’s no answer to this question right now. In the application submitted to the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC), SWEPCO proposed the six routes shown in the map below –`preferred’ Route 33 and five alternatives, Routes 62, 86, 91, 108 and 109. The APSC approved SWEPCO’s project and selected Route 109 in January of 2014, and then reversed these decisions four months later.
If the Commission again approves SWEPCO’s project and chooses a route, that route will be one of SWEPCO’s six routes, either as is or with modifications, or it will be an entirely new route devised by the Commission. This means that virtually all private properties in most of Benton County, Arkansas, the western portion of Carroll County, Arkansas, and the southernmost portions of Barry and McDonald Counties in Missouri can be considered at risk of being traversed by SWEPCO’s transmission line right-of-way.
The course of events is as follows:
- SWEPCO presented six possible transmission line routes in its application of April 3, 2013;
- On August 12, 2013, the APSC issued Order 20 to remove three routes from consideration, which left three possible routes – Routes 33, 108, and 109 .
- On January 17 and 21, 2014, respectively, the APSC issued Order 32 and Order 33 to approve the project, choose Route 109, and find Routes 33 and 108 to be “unreasonable;”
- On March 14, 2014, SWEPCO filed a petition for a limited rehearing, asking the Commission to approve Route 33 as it is or as it will be with modifications that include two entirely new segments and a segment of Routes 86 and 91.
- On March 18, 2014, Save the Ozarks filed a petition for rehearing, asking the Commission to deny approval of the project “because the Commission’s decision issuing a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need (CECPN) to SWEPCO for Route 109 is arbitrary and unreasonable, is contrary to Arkansas and federal law, is contrary to the Arkansas and Federal constitutional guarantees of due process, is not supported by substantial evidence, and is unjust for all the reasons presented herein.”
- On June 9, 2014, the Commission issued Order 36, granting both petitions for rehearing, revoking the approval and selection of Route 109, and ordering a comprehensive reevaluation of the need for the project as well as several other major issues;
- In SWEPCO’s letter of July 3, 2014, the utility company informed the Commission that the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) would prepare the comprehensive reevaluation and expected to complete it in late January of 2015;
- In Save the Ozarks’ letter of July 29, 2014, the organization asked the Commission to deny SWEPCO’s application and close the docket or, if the Commission does not close the docket, order SWEPCO to reimburse STO’s and the other opposing intervenors’ experts and attorneys’ fees going forward, including the fees and expenses of STO expert Dr. Hyde Merrill, for any participation, and 1) allow STO and other opposing intervenors an equal amount of time to review SPP’s comprehensive reevaluation after its completion, or 2) direct SWEPCO and SPP to provide STO and the other intervenors all drafts, models, input data, assumptions, reports, appendices, and other
relevant materials as the 6-7 month study period proceeds, to enable STO’s experts to have ample opportunity to become familiar with and analyze the new data and studies before active litigation in this docket resumes, and to offer constructive suggestions to SWEPCO’s and SPP’s, and to allow certain STO-designated individuals to participate as stakeholders in the process of reevaluation and consideration of alternatives as ordered by the Commission.
- As of Oct. 18, 2014, the Commission has not responded to SWEPCO’s letter of July 3, 2014, or STO’s letter of July 30, 2014.
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