Editor’s Note: In response to the Administrative Law Judge’s approval of SWEPCO’s new powerline, this is what one SWEPCO rep. had to say:
We are certainly aware of the many concerns about this project. We will work hard to complete the project in a responsible manner that will minimize the impact while serving the needs of electric consumers across the region.
Issues raised by Save The Ozarks and other intervenors have been addressed by SWEPCO and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) during extensive testimony at the Arkansas Public Service Commission over many months, concluding with a week-long evidentiary hearing in August and additional legal briefs filed prior to the Administrative Law Judge closing the record in November and issuing her decision 60 days later. During that period, the APSC conducted four days of public comment hearings in Northwest Arkansas in July and received approximately 6,000 written public comments as part of the Commission’s decision-making process. Ultimately, the judge weighed the evidence and reached the decision that the facilities are needed and selected a route for the line.
The purpose of the proposed facilities is to provide reliable electric service to customers across the region. And as the judge said in the order (p. 95), it is important to note that construction of regional projects is for the benefit of all customers in the area, not just customers serviced by the company building the line.
… Southwest Power Pool has the responsibility for transmission planning for a nine-state region, including northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. As a transmission-owning member of SPP, SWEPCO was directed by SPP to build this line. Specifically, the project is intended to relieve overloads and reliability problems on the existing 161,000-volt system in eastern Benton County and Carroll County, and extend the 345,000-volt system to help ensure long-term reliability across the region. We had the challenge of routing a line between stations in Benton and Carroll Counties, through the congested I-540 corridor, around Beaver Lake and considering many communities and special places in the Ozarks. Our proposal has been under careful review at the Commission, which has the difficult task of balancing the needs of many stakeholders with the requirements to maintain a reliable electric system.
Peter H. Main
Principal Communications Consultant
AEP Southerwestern Power Company (SWEPCO)