Breaking News: Arkansas Public Service Commission grants rehearing
Mary Pat Boian

A long-anticipated decision was handed down late Monday afternoon granting a rehearing on the 160 ft. tall, 345 kV power lines that Southwestern Power Company (SWEPCO) insisted were needed for additional electricity. The power lines were to transmit electricity to other states, not Arkansas, and would transect Carroll County and Eureka Springs. The APSC wrote that insufficient evidence for need of the transmission line was presented.

“This is what we were looking for,” Pat Costner, director of Save the Ozarks, said. “We did a solid job. This is a first in Arkansas, no one has ever challenged these lines on basis of need and brought the project to a halt.”

Costner said STO’s next move would be clearer when the next ruling on how the rehearing is to be handled is released.

“Considering all the evidence provided to date, the Arkansas Public Service Commission found that whiIe some transmission development in the area appears warranted, the record is presently insufficient to determine: the need for the particular 345 kV project that has been proposed, whether that project is consistent with the pubIic convenience and necessity, and whether the project represents an “acceptable adverse environmenta1 impact, considering… the various alternatives, if any, and other pertinent considerations.” Accordingly, the Commission grants rehearing for consideration of additional evidence on the need for, and the potential environmental impact of, the proposed 345 kV project, The parties should provide additional testimony and more recent, comprehensive evidence on whether the proposed 345 kV project is needed, whether transmission requirements in the region might be met by alternative options, such as expanding, upgrading, or building lower capacity facilities, including 161 kV lines, and if not why not, the comparative costs associated with the options, the environmental impact of the options, and the long term sufficiency of the options.

“The Commission also grants rehearing for consideration of additional evidence on the routing of the proposed transmission line. The parties should provide additional evidence on SWEPCO’s proposed routes. If SWEPCO chooses to propose or modify a route, it should submit proof that all landowners have received the statutory notice.

“With regard to routing, the parties should provide evidence whether existing 161 kV lines could be upgraded or existing rights-of-way used or expanded so as to limit adverse environmental impacts.

“Because the Commission grants rehearing for consideration of additional evidence, the prior grant of the CECPN for Route 109 is vacated. Whether a CECPN for transmission facilities should be granted and, if so, along what route will be determined after consideration of all the evidence.” [Docket No. 13-041-u, Order No. 36]

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