SWEPCO lowers property tax estimates

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Company now says Route 109 will bring county about $275,000

The Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) released updated property tax estimates for the proposed Route 109, 345 kV transmission line that would go through Barry and McDonald counties, and the new estimate is, at best, 33.5 percent of the original $820,000 estimate.

Peter Main, spokesman for SWEPCO said based on the $46.7 million Missouri portion of the project, $15.6 million of which would be in Barry County, the estimated annual property taxed for Barry and McDonald counties would be approximately $650,000 to $700,000, and Barry County would likely see about $250,000 to $275,000 of that total.

"The original number based on the Route 109 was determined using historical rates and assessments of other property in the area," he said. "What we have been able to do is get more accurate information on property tax rates in Barry and McDonald counties."

Originally estimating the tax rate at 7 percent, Main said the company has lowered the Barry County rate used for estimating to 5 percent, and has lowered the McDonald County rate to 4 percent.

Cherry Warren, Barry County presiding commissioner said he knew the original estimate was too high, and he is not surprised by the new numbers.

"We went back and looked at what the railroad pays and we knew [SWEPCO's estimate] was way too high," he said. "I'm sure $200,000 would be a lot more inline than the $800,000, but you lose credibility by saying $800,000 or $900,000 and then come back down to $200,000."

State Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, said he is also not surprised by the change in the estimation, and thinks it may drop even more.

"It's not surprising to me because when I talked to the collector, I was told total revenue for that tax was $200,000, so for the revenue to quintuple based on SWEPCO's estimate seemed like there was error in the math," he said. "I would also be surprised if $275,000 is accurate, and there could be further reductions."

Fitzpatrick, who filed a bill in the legislature that would strip the Missouri Public Service Commission's jurisdiction in ruling on the proposed route, said he is still against the line being built in Missouri.

"For me, property tax revenues are a secondary concern to the property rights of people who live in the path of the line," he said.

SWEPCO, along with Save The Ozarks, a group aiming to stop the transmission line project entirely, have each filed petitions for rehearing with the Arkansas Public Service Commission. Main said the commission has 30 days to respond to the requests, and the state of Route 109 will depend on the commission's response.

"Depending on the outcome of the request for rehearing, we are prepared to pursue approval in Missouri, and the exact location of the Missouri portion is still pending study and public input," he said.

Main said if the Route 109 decision holds, he hopes the change in property tax estimates will also allow better communication of the project's benefits.

"We certainly hope to be in the position to talk about more accurate numbers, recognizing that estimates on future taxes are just estimates," he said. "We obviously did not get it right the first time, and we are making every effort to get better numbers."

Warren said he has spoken to representatives of Burns and McDonnell, an engineering firm out of Kansas City, and they said letters are about to be mailed out to residents along Route 109 to get an idea of what it would take to acquire the land necessary for the transmission line.

State Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, did not return multiple messages for comment on this report.

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  • Main says he "hopes the change in property tax estimates will also allow better communication of the project's benefits." Really? What does that mean? Does he think the good citizens of Barry and McDonald Counties will sell out for a potential increase in property tax revenues that they themselves will share in paying with higher monthly electric bills? Kyle, SWEPCO recovers 100% of its transmission costs including property taxes, plus a minimum of 11.2% return on equity, from us on our monthly electric bills. That's true whether or not your bill in on SWEPCO letterhead. Include in your calculations how much the transmission line will reduce property values in the areas where it's located, and it is nothing but a big fat drain on county coffers. This is not free money. We pay. We pay. We pay.

    -- Posted by MPeine on Thu, Mar 27, 2014, at 11:50 PM
  • Peter Main is trying to get a better estimate for the $820,000 tax revenue annual increase he promised Barry County for Route 109. His new number is $275,000, way too high. Barry County would loose 40% property tax revenue.

    Peter Main, could you give us a better estimate for the total cost of the 50 mile line? Brian Johnson's $100 million is way too low. Here is my best guess for the 36 years of the line, assuming few public health related lawsuits: $2,000 million!

    -- Posted by LeanDoc on Sun, Mar 30, 2014, at 5:04 PM
  • Kyle, please check your facts:

    The line is only needed by SWEPCO, to profit AEP shareholders. SWEPCO wants route 33. APSC already said 109, deal with Missouri.

    No one in Missouri wants an extension cord through Barry and McDonald Counties. MO Senator Sater, and MO Representatives Fitzpatrick, Neely, Lant and Jansen in a few weeks prepared awesome legislation to stop SWEPCO and protect private property rights, something Arkansas has not done in a year!

    Route 109 proposed by SWEPCO along with other five routes on April 3, 2013, trespasses Missouri to spare the rich people of Bella Vista, AR. This is what Brian Johnson, the AEP project manager, said in sworn testimony.

    Save the Ozarks is a group fighting hard to stop all the routes. In Arkansas, we love STO and despise SWEPCO and AEP.

    Onsite grid-tie solar power generation, community or personal systems, are here today, the Dream of the Ozarks. No new transmission lines required.

    -- Posted by LeanDoc on Sun, Mar 30, 2014, at 6:01 PM
  • I am not surprised Peter Main revised his tax appraisal numbers. We have been dealing with a landslide of misinformation since April fools day in 2013 when we first learned of SWEPCO's proposed malfeasance.

    They have been disingenuous from the start. For instance, they have claimed that the power line is for local reliability. That's like saying the fire hydrant at curbside will offer more reliability for watering your garden than the hose connected to your backyard spigot. Delivering 8 times the power currently provided to its termination on the Kings River, the power line was never from day one, about reliability.

    Sad to say, AEP/SWEPCO is just one more American Corporation that will do and say anything necessary to serve their bottom line at our expense. I urge all to say no to SWEPCO... not to the employees that work diligently and responsibly to keep lights on for customers, but to that rogue element that hungers for corporate profits without regard for real people.

    -- Posted by DougStowe on Sun, Mar 30, 2014, at 7:33 PM
  • Please note that Save the Ozarks is not concerned with altering the power line route. We are against all routes, as the destruction it will cause has never been proven necessary in the first place. Period. Our organization was the first to bring this malfeasance to the attention of Missouri landowners, because just as SWEPCO kept it secret from us until the last possible minute, they were doing the same to Missouri landowners.

    It is no surprise that SWEPCO would falsify the tax benefits and then have to revise them downward. They've yet to admit that the huge power line will have anything but positive effect. But their own Economic Impact Statement tells it like it is and you can read it online.

    There will be no positive economic benefit to the small local communities through which it is built. No employment, as all employees used to construct and maintain the power line will be from outside the area. They did note that there may be some sales of lodging when the workers are in town, clear cutting the right of way, blasting foundation holes in the karst terrain, lowering gargantuan poles into the earth and stringing wires. They predict there will be some sales of fuel as the workers are leaving us to contend with the mess they have made.

    -- Posted by DougStowe on Sun, Mar 30, 2014, at 8:47 PM
  • Dear Kyle,

    This is a little long, but here goes:

    IMPORTANT points: SAVE THE OZARKS is far more than a group opposing ONE line. SAVE THE OZARKS opposes the entire 345kV transmission line; a NEEDLESS, COSTLY BEHEMOTH that ONLY the utility CEOs want. (Our issue is not with the valuable workers on the ground).

    That oft repeated mandate by the MYSTERIOUS SPP (Southwest Power Pool)? I think readers should know that AEP and SWEPCO are members of the "POOL" And that telling us this was mandated in 2007, hardly Inspires confidence. Imagine any modern company submitting a 7 year old projection.

    Advances in decentralized power distribution are the fastest growing segment of the new energy paradigm. Utility Dinosaurs who fail to recognize this will be left in the dust. Add to that, innovations in building and appliance design...these result in electricity usage that has NOT grown as "projected" waaaay back then. (Especially in remote, rural areas.)

    We are continually astounded by the lack of respect for hard working RURAL families who - once again - are asked to sacrifice for Billion Dollar corporations. SWEPCO's request to move lines here and there now impacts NEW property owners who are not given enough notice, must "lawyer up" and have barely enough time to put food on the table. No wonder so many people say, "oh there is nothing we can do"!

    Well, they are wrong. Growing numbers of people smell a rat. Even the AL judge at the hearings in Little Rock wanted to know about the "reliability" as she opened her arms wide and asked, "Are we talking about THIS much reliability"?

    We don't care that AEP/SWEPCO's clock is ticking and that they must push to get this project done "On time". HASTE MAKES WASTE...we don't need this line and our lights will not go out if it is not built. We DO know that these delays are bad for their image and hurt bond ratings. We wonder how their friends on Wall Street feel about this ground swell of GROWING opposition? Perhaps they should have considered this before pointing to a map saying, "that space is empty...let's put it THERE"!

    Oh, and lets get it straight: That $47,000,000 portion in MO? On Pages 65-66 of the original EIS (Environmental Impact Statement), you too can read: this project brings NOT ONE JOB - Again: NO JOBS...but hey, the imported crews might create a temporary uptick in Retail/Restaraunt sales. Insulting.

    Average American families and our stunning Ozarks should not be collateral damage for this Poorly conceived, Faultily proposed 345Kv Line. (They omitted "construct-ability" as an evaluating criteria)

    The list of disturbing aspects goes on as we learn that the APSC Commissioners attend regular SPP meetings and events...So much for Impartial Judgement. I'm no expert, but if I cannot speak to a commissioner (believe me I have tried) Why are commissioners allowed ANY contact with the SPP? How can their decision be Impartial?

    This ridiculously HIGH VOLTAGE line to a cow pasture in Berryville, AR is detrimental to the Ozark Highlands in every conceivable way.

    Who decides that it is acceptable to lose 600-800 acres of mature forest - bulldozed and BURNED on site? Certainly NO ONE WHO LIVES HERE!!!

    Do you have any idea how hard it was to sit in a courtroom and hear - one after another - Utility "Experts" tell us that 150' towers with 150' clear cut and herbicide sprays in perpetuity "have NO adverse Impact" on our fragile Karst environment?? I beg your pardon. THEY DON'T LIVE HERE. As a matter of fact, They never visited this region to conduct tests/aquire permits that should have been submitted WITH the Application LAST APRIL 2013!! These "experts" do not get to tell us that this has NO ADVERSE IMPACT.

    We urge readers to stand up for their rights to stop this dinosaur from trampling our VALUABLE region that brings MILLIONS and MILLIONS of tourist dollars $$$$ to AR/MO... We were here first. We contribute far more $$$ than THEY ever will and we will continue to run bake sales/rummage sales, conduct art auctions, sell road signs/Tshirts/bumper stickers, call/write our legislators, visit neighbors and try, try, try to find a branch of our government that truly cares about saving this Natural Money Maker!

    -- Posted by InfinityFaith on Sun, Mar 30, 2014, at 10:21 PM
  • The point should be clearly made that while SWEPCO claims that 200,000 would go into county coffers (charges passed on to all rate payers), overall property values would be reduced. No one wants to live close to these gargantuan extra high voltage power lines. There are widespread concerns of adverse health effects and the things are ugly. In addition the right of way is kept sterile of natural forest growth in perpetuity through the use of toxic herbicides.

    In other words, while the county may get some moola from the utility, assessments of property all across the county in proximity and view of the power line will be reduced. SWEPCO will show evidence of folks happily living under the shadow of power lines, but won't tell you that that was the last place anyone would want to live if given a choice. The ugliness of power lines is why they bury the things in the most expensive neighborhoods.

    -- Posted by DougStowe on Mon, Mar 31, 2014, at 6:48 AM
  • Since June 2013, our DIY SOLAR installation has generated 4.5 MEGAWATTS of power! We expect our utilities to be IN FRONT of progressive, safe generation, not forced into it.

    Here's a thought, AEP/SWEPCO should take the millions $$ and lease solar panels like SOLAR CITY (check it out on line).

    They'll make a bundle and we keep our family farms and our peaceful, pretty, clean ECO tourist destination! It's a win win!

    -- Posted by InfinityFaith on Mon, Mar 31, 2014, at 9:07 AM
  • Just NOW sending letters to MO residents? to get an IDEA of what it will take? SRSLY? SWEPCO started its "research" SEVEN yrs ago, but never bothered to see what it will take?

    -- Posted by Anita Break on Mon, Mar 31, 2014, at 5:12 PM
  • To learn more about this proposal and not just some SWEPCO propaganda, go to www.SaveTheOzarks.org and Save The Ozarks on Facebook. You would be surprised to learn that SWEPCO land agents are trying to take people's property by having them sign easement agreements that have waivers of notice in them...thus taking away someone's right to have been notified of this project and allowed the right to challenge it and protect their private property. There are so many things wrong in how this goat rodeo has been handled by SWEPCO and the APSC. There is no need for these high voltage transmission lines in the Ozark Highlands. Our fragile karst topography will be forever damaged for this and future generations. The over 800 acres of pristine forests that will be bulldozed will never recover. Our farms, waterways, wells and springs will be polluted by herbicide runoff. Protected wildlife will be compromised. Our economy will suffer as no one will visit here for eco-tourism. SWEPCO testified in their EIS that NO new jobs will be created as they bring in out of state labor as there is NO local talent to do the job. Property owners still have to pay taxes for that Right of Way land, so increase in taxes comes from YOU! Get informed and don't let SWEPCO take what YOU work for!

    -- Posted by Anita Break on Mon, Mar 31, 2014, at 5:26 PM
  • "Depending on the outcome of the request for rehearing, we are prepared to pursue approval in Missouri, and the exact location of the Missouri portion is still pending study and public input," from SWEPCO's Peter Main...don't believe a word of it! It's clear public input means nothing to SWEPCO. Over 5000 opposing comments on the APSC, 2 days of folks voicing their opposition before the APSC ALS Judge, and a year outcry of protest...SWEPCO wants what they want with no concern for the public. Go sell crazy somewhere else Main!

    -- Posted by Anita Break on Mon, Mar 31, 2014, at 5:32 PM
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