SWEPCO granted rehearing request for Route 109

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Organization may wait until June for outcome

The Arkansas Public Service Commission recently issued an order that gave it another 60 days to respond to rehearing petitions from the Southwestern Electric Power Company and from Save The Ozarks.

SWEPCO filed for a partial rehearing in March aiming to reinstate Route 33, instead of Route 109, which travels through southern Missouri, and STO filed for a full rehearing not long after, with a goal of putting a stop to the 345 kV transmission line project entirely.

The commission at that time had 30 days to respond, and it did by granting both requests for further consideration, giving it until June 9 to make a decision about how to move forward with the pair of petitions.

Peter Main, spokesman for SWEPCO, said the company is readily awaiting the APSC's next move.

"We are pleased that the Commission has granted for reconsideration our petition regarding the approved route of this important transmission line," he said. "We will look to the Commission's future order to see how the case will proceed."

John Bethel, executive director of the APSC, said it is not uncommon for the commission to grant hearings on the basis of further consideration.

"It's happened before, and depending on the nature of the issue, the commission may need to take additional time to make a decision," he said. "The commission is considering both petitions, and sometime within the next 60 days, will enter an order on the substance of both petitions."

The commission has a number of options, which include the following:

* Uphold the original order without changes;

* Modify or clarify the order without further hearing based on the existing record;

* Reopen the docket for the receipt of further evidence;

* Reverse the order, in whole or in part;

* Hold a rehearing solely for the purpose of further consideration; or

* Take any other action it deems appropriate.

Bethel said although the commission has until June 9 to make a decision, it is not bound to take all that time.

"I can't predict when they will make a decision," he said. "It could happen at any time within those 60 days."

SWEPCO proposed Route 33 in Benton and Carroll counties in Arkansas, and the APSC approved alternate Route 109, which also includes 8.5 miles in Barry County and 17 miles in McDonald County. The APSC approval is only for the Arkansas segments of Route 109, and SWEPCO has not filed with the Missouri Public Service Commission for approval of Route 109.

Depending on the outcome of the request, American Electric Power, parent company of SWEPCO, is prepared to pursue regulatory approval for Route 109 in Missouri. The exact location of the Missouri portion of the line is pending further study and public input.

SWEPCO originally claimed the Route 109 transmission line would bring $820,000 to Barry County in property tax revenues, but has since dropped that figure down to $250,000 to $275,000.

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

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  • Why is everyone talking as though this project is a foregone conclusion? Recent Bloomberg articles show electric usage DECREASING. Ruining a valuable ASSET like stunning, scenic vistas throughout the Ozarks in Arkansas And Missouri hardly seems wise. These vistas fuel an economic engine called TOURISM and those $$ will GROW the more we protect the forest, lakes and rivers.

    NATURE has an ever increasing monetary value. As a retired, relatively successful Small business owner, I sincerely hope more people acknowledge this $ VALUE before the bulldozers, hydraulic drills and helicopters come to raze, burn, blast and spray.

    Let's look further down the road. Let's not add our UNIQUE Eco Region to the list of places that "used to be so pretty."

    For those of you who have been told this is good for our economy.... Please read the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) submitted by AEP/SWEPCO April 3, 2013. On pages 65/66 it states plainly that there are no jobs DURING OR AFTER CONSTRUCTION. I repeat. There are no jobs.

    To those of you who love and honor the beautiful Ozarks ... Join SAVE THE OZARKS and make history. Peacefully, legally, STO opposes the Wall Street/MEGA Utility - High Voltage land grab for private gain. This project is NOT for the public good, no matter how their PR departments spin it.

    To AEP/SWEPCO: Lease roof top solar!!! Take care of "reliability" on our roof tops! We are waiting. You can make serious $$, achieve that reliability and enhance your public image! Cha Ching...those are dollars for your investors.

    -- Posted by InfinityFaith on Thu, May 1, 2014, at 11:31 AM
  • Dear Kyle,

    SWEPCO has failed to give us data to support the NEED for this next leg of their 345kV. If you examine the population of Carroll and Madison Counties in AR and/or the population of Barry and McDonald Counties in MO, it does not take a mathematician to arrive at NO NEED. This plan was "mandated" in 2007. Sorry, I am not impressed by such dated strategy. Renewables with less environmental impact are the biggest growing sector of the new energy paradigm and many utilities are jumping aboard with enviable results.

    We who live here (AEP is Ohio based, NOT Arkansas based) care deeply about our greater communities. We KNOW that these towers are not needed NOW and won't be needed 30 years from NOW. They are highways for profit. AEP now has a separate company for just the transmission.

    A friend said it was like a PONZI SCHEME. I asked why. He said as long as the big utilities build large Infrastructure they are guaranteed handsome profit. In a Ponzi Scheme the expenses/profits are paid by the new comers into the scheme. In our case, the unsuspecting rate payers are like the new comers, except we were not given a choice! I have not met one informed person who thinks this is good for the region.

    Maybe you think I am a nut, but at least Think about it. Not so far fetched. AEP/SWEPCO has a harder time satisfying investors selling power. They have to keep building massive grid Infrastructure to stay ahead of the game. If it wasn't so scary, it would be amusing.

    With not one permanent or temporary job created to build this HIGH VOLTAGE mirage, it IS NOT a good deal for any of us who actually live here.

    We are weary of hearing the utility PR departments talk about the NEED when they haven't proven it in the first place. Is it too much to ask our extremely wealthy utilities to spend a little of their profit to walk the walk? To Really look into the future and embrace healthier delivery of electrons? We'd all like to see them lease solar panels on our roof tops and invest in smaller more holistic models. Big money comes in small too.

    Read their websites. An awful lot of bragging along with healthy doses of double speak. Call me naive, but I expect much better from leading utilities. They are paid VERY handsomely to think about these things. It's their JOB!

    -- Posted by InfinityFaith on Fri, May 2, 2014, at 4:31 PM
  • Kyle, just once it would be nice if you contacted Save The Ozarks to report on the other side of this battle. It is tiresome to keep reading word for word SWEPCO propaganda and only quotes from them and the APSC. Why not investigate what is really going in this saga...your readers might appreciate the truth.

    "SWEPCO originally claimed the Route 109 transmission line would bring $820,000 to Barry County in property tax revenues, but has since dropped that figure down to $250,000 to $275,000.

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

    So only a 2% difference in tax rates drops projections from $820k down to $250k...is this a new math???

    Do some homework. SWEPCO's projections for this entire behemoth have been allover the place. Their spin does not compute.

    -- Posted by Anita Break on Fri, May 2, 2014, at 4:51 PM
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