Transmission line opponents ask Arkansas Public Service Commission to deny SWEPCO’s application and close the docket
Save the Ozarks asks the Commission to deny SWEPCO’s application and close the docket after SWEPCO announced a plan to spend the next six months preparing its third attempt to prove there is a public need for the company’s proposed new transmission line in Northwest Arkansas/ Southwest Missouri.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas, July 30, 2014
In today’s filing, Save the Ozarks reminded the Commission, “SWEPCO has already had two opportunities (via its initial application and the SPP restudy presented during the proceedings) to make its case that its application to the Commission for a new 345 kV line was justified. The Commission came to the conclusion, after reviewing all the evidence presented by all the parties, that the need for a 345 kV line was not established by SWEPCO’s application or by the evidence presented during the proceedings.”
“SWEPCO, its parent company, American Electric Power, and other utility companies are trying to cope with rising costs and electricity sales that have been dropping all across the country for the past seven years,” said STO Director Pat Costner. “In this situation, it seems unlikely that a restudy will make a credible case that SWEPCO should continue to propose a 345 kV transmission line or even any new transmission line. Meanwhile, hundreds of landowners and business owners have been facing loss of both their property and property values for more than 16 months. Their ordeal will continue for another year or more if the Commission continues proceedings while SWEPCO conducts its new evaluations.”
In the event that the Commission chooses not to deny SWEPCO’s application and close the docket, STO proposes two procedural alternatives. The first alternative is to allow STO and other intervenors the same amount of time to review the restudies by SWEPCO and the Southwest Power Pool as the 6-7 additional months requested by SWEPCO and the Southwest Power Pool to carry out those restudies. If this alternative is not acceptable, STO requests the Commission to direct SWEPCO and SPP to provide STO and other intervenors all relevant materials as the 6-7 month study period proceeds and to allow certain STO-designated individuals to participate as stakeholders in the process of reevaluation in the same manner as SWEPCO’s and SPP’s other stakeholders.
If the Commission doesn’t deny SWEPCO’s original application now and close this docket, STO asks the Commission to order SWEPCO to reimburse STO’s and the other intervenors’ experts and attorneys’ fees going forward, including the fees and expenses of STO expert Dr. Hyde Merrill, for any participation by them allowed in the 2015 ITP process, in performing independent analysis and presenting testimony and argument to the Commission on the results of the 2015 ITP process and any application and studies resulting therefrom, and for their participation in any further proceedings ordered by the Commission in this docket, regardless of whether any future application for the originally proposed or similar line, or some alternative project (or none) is approved by the Commission.
Costner said, “It is in everyone’s best interests, even SWEPCO’s, if the Commission simply denies SWEPCO’s application. People here can get on with their lives and, after the new studies are completed next year, SWEPCO can start over with a clean slate if they’re still convinced there is a public need for a 345 kV transmission line.”