Guestatorial A few facts and then a few questions...
Doug Stowe

In their order #36, the Public Service Commissioners noted that “some transmission development in the area appears warranted.” They’ll have us wait while AEP/SWEPCO and the Southwest Power Pool are given another six months or so to spring forth a new rationale. If this ugly sucker of a power line is not immediately rejected by the APSC in the name of justice, we will have protracted hearings far into the summer of 2015.

I would like to acquaint readers with a few important facts that have bearing on whether “some transmission development in the area” is warranted. The Shipes Road to Kings River power line would terminate (temporarily) in the distribution area served by the Carroll Electric Cooperative. In their most recent report, Carroll Electric’s increase in power usage and delivery was 1.000982 percent over the two-year period from 2011 to 2013. That amounts to a ½ percent per year rate of growth. That’s hardly enough growth to have fits about, or necessitate a huge 345 kV power line, or even a new 161 kV power line that APSC suggests be reviewed as an alternative.

In their most recent report, Carroll Electric told proudly of a 55 percent increase in reliability. They should be congratulated for that, particularly knowing that SWEPCO’s audacious plan had nothing whatsoever to do with their success. The need for the power line was claimed for growth and reliability, and Carroll Electric has done well enough on both scores without any interference by AEP/SWEPCO.

Furthermore, “According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, residential energy consumption in Arkansas fell between 2010 and 2012. Nationwide, electricity use per household is expected to fall through 2040.” Both of these interesting facts are supplied by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Sunday, July 13, 2014.

I think it’s time for the APSC and the Southwest Power Pool and AEP/SWEPCO to come forth with some further explanation for the people of Northwest Arkansas. AEP/SWEPCO and the Southwest Power Pool claim that a six-month delay will be required to converse with “stakeholders.” There are many thousands of stakeholders in the tourist industry of Northwest Arkansas who should have been consulted before this power line was proposed in the first place. We, as stakeholders and property owners whose lands would be taken and destroyed by eminent domain, should never have had to face such an ill-conceived project as this one proposed by AEP/SWEPCO.

Given the federal Department of Energy expectation that household use of power will decline until 2040, does the power industry have some secret stakeholders more deeply affected than the citizens of Northwest Arkansas? For example, industrial or marketing demands that this power line is intended to supply with massive amounts of electricity? Or is it simply to transport power out of state? If so, do they plan to sacrifice Arkansas’s third largest industry, tourism, to serve those new industries and markets? Or are they just trying to ram the thing past us for their own profits with no concern for the people, the economy and the environment of Northwest Arkansas?

What silly questions I have asked. We’ve been contending with this process long enough to know that AEP/SWEPCO falsified the necessity for this power line, understated its environmental and economic costs, and mocked those who stood united against it. The application should be summarily dismissed.

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