SWEPCO turned our lives upside down on April 3, 2013, and, ever since, we’ve been going flat-out to set matters right again:
- On April 3, 2013, SWEPCO presented the Arkansas Public Service Commission with an application for approval to construct a 345 kV transmission line and a new substation in Northwest Arkansas, with the transmission line to follow one of six possible routes between the utility company’s new Shipe Road Substation west of Centerton in Benton County and the proposed new substation on the Kings River west of Berryville in Carroll County;
- On August 12, 2013, the APSC issued Order 20 to remove three of the six 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 both the Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need given to SWEPCO and the 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. 24, 2014, the Commission has not responded to SWEPCO’s letter of July 3, 2014, or STO’s letter of July 30, 2014.
What happens next? We wait. Arkansas law says the APSC shall “conclude the proceedings as expeditiously as practicable.” However, the APSC tends to operate by its own rules. This may mean that nothing will happen until after late January of 2015, when the Southwest Power Pool is expected to complete the comprehensive reevaluation ordered by the APSC.