SWEPCO granted rehearing request for Route 109
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.