UPDATE: STO will hold a public meeting on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 at 6 p.m. at The Auditorium in Eureka Springs. STO officers will offer updates on “what’s next” since the AL Judge’s ruling to approve SWEPCO’s high-voltage transmission line from Shipes Rd in Centerton to the Kings River in Berryville. A question and answer period will follow. ”
Thousands of Northwest Arkansas business people and citizens were shocked and “disappointed” when Connie Griffin, Administrative Law Judge for the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC), gave her approval to a plan to run a massive power transmission line through the heart of the Ozark Highlands.
Southwestern Electric Power (SWEPCO), a subsidiary of American Electric Power (AEP), plans to construct and operate a 345 kilovolt transmission line from SWEPCO’s Shipe Road Substation in western Benton County, to the proposed Kings River Substation east of Eureka Springs in Carroll County.
Pat Costner, Director of Save The Ozarks (STO), the volunteer citizens group who opposed SWEPCO’s plan, said, “We are taking all steps necessary to challenge the Administrative Law Judge’s ruling before the Commission. If needed, we will appeal any adverse Commission decision in court.” Mick Harrison, STO’s lead attorney, said, “With all due respect, the Administrative Law Judge’s ruling is both factually and legally incorrect.”
While Griffin’s ruling came as a shock to the thousands of people across NWA opposing the plan, the biggest surprise may be the route she chose for the line. It is Route 109, the northernmost of the three routes under consideration. Route 109 runs from western Benton County, up into Missouri, where it traverses the southern edges of Barry and McDonald counties, before going south into Carroll County.
The entire transmission line project has drawn heated, virtually unanimous opposition in Carroll County, where residents oppose all proposed routes, including Route 109. Objections include the seizure of private property by eminent domain proceedings, dramatic reductions in property values, financial losses for the many businesses that depend directly on tourism, and degradation of the unique environment that underpins the area’s quality of life. In contrast, very little concern has been evident in Missouri. This may be due to SWEPCO’s failure to notify Missouri landowners that their property lies in the path of the transmission line right-of-way. SWEPCO has already admitted that obtaining permission for the project from the Missouri Public Service Commission could be especially challenging since the utility company has no license to operate in Missouri and since there will be little, if any, benefit for Missourians.
For further information, contact Doug Stowe, 479-981-1416, or Pat Costner, 479-253-8440.
About Save the Ozarks
STO is a non-profit group of landowners, business owners and others who oppose SWEPCO’s proposal. STO has a legal team that is representing them before the APSC, as well as experts in three areas: the need for the project, its impacts on the karst hydrogeology of the Ozarks, and visual impacts of the project.