Citizens unite vs Ozarks power line

When it rains environmental concerns in the Ozarks, also known as God’s Country, it really does pour.
   Just ask all those folks in Eureka Springs who are up in arms today over Southwestern Power and Electric’s little known proposal (certainly new to me anyway) that would run a high voltage, 345 kilovolt (kV) transmission line from Centerton across Carroll County near the city to a power station at the tranquil Kings River.
   The proposed transmission line comes as a deeply controversial industrial hog farm completes work on two barns that will confine up to 6,500 swine along Big Creek, a tributary of the pristine Buffalo National River that meanders through the scenic Ozarks about five miles downstream.
  SWEPCO’s proposal has aroused anger and deep suspicions among many citizens and residents of Carroll County, especially around Eureka Springs where a local weekly newspaper is aggressively asking what the power company isn’t telling people about its goals and intentions?
   Resident Roger Shepperd, who helped organize a recent meeting attended by at least 150 citizens, was quoted as calling the idea “a power line to nowhere.”
   He said it’s his understanding there’s not an electric generating station on the Benton County end and not enough users on the Berryville end to warrant such an enormous line.
   A news account by Becky Gillette of the Eureka Springs (ES) Independent says SWEPCO wants to build the line to meet expected future power demands on both ends of the line. But Sheppard says he’s combed through records of the Southern Power Pool, a regional power transmission organization, and can find nothing mentioned about potential needs in the coming 20 years for a 345 kV line on either end. So what gives?
   The bottom line is a growing number of folks in Carroll County are wondering what lies at the heart of the power company’s push to tear an unsightly and wide swath through the timbers to a location near the King’s River. Sure seems like a legitimate question to me.
    Gillette writes there are six potential sites under consideration that the proposed transmission line would follow. She also explains how SWEPCO spokesman Peter Main sent her an e-mail explaining how the proposed 345Kv line on its westernmost end would link to the one of similar power at Flint Creek and Shipe Rd. and to a new Shipe Rd. station at Centerton.
   At Kings River station on the easternmost end, the proposed line would reinforce power needs on that end by connecting with two existing 161 Kv lines. There, the 345 kV surge would be stepped down in power to accommodate both of the 161 kV lines.
   OK enough tedious power lingo. The bottom line here is the power company contends it needs this line for whatever its reasoning and has jumped through the legal and environmental hoops to get ‘er done.
     But growing numbers of property owners and others (in Carroll County and Eureka Spring especially)  don’t  want their property  values, scenic beauty, environment and the tourism that city depends upon impacted negatively by what amounts to a power superhighway through the forests that they don’t see as even close to being necessary. They don’t want to be forced into choosing one of six possible routes for this line.
    In fact, growing numbers want the project stopped entirely based on what some claim is a flawed environmental impact statement and because they say the Arkansas Public Service Commission isn’t even addressing the needs and concerns of individual landowners.
   The PSC is taking arguments over this transmission line until May 2, but a request for an  extension of that deadline is expected.
    Already, there is talk of retaining an attorney (I can already smell the apples from those fund-raising pie suppers) and gathering support for their cause that appears to have gotten little publicity thus far. They’ve established a web page: Save the to explain all the details.

   Resident Tom Armstrong, who helped organize that recent meeting of troubled Carroll County folks said one of the most shocking aspects is that the power line just makes no sense to so many people since it hasn’t been properly justified or explained.

    He also said he and others contend SWEPCO based its proposal on erroneous information gathered in 2007 before the worldwide recession of 2008. 
    And so valued readers, like a dirt devil turned tornado or a breeze that becomes a hurricane, stay tuned for yet another fight by concerned taxpayers and voters trying to do all they can to preserve the God-given gift and environmental quality of our cherished Ozarks. 


  1. Thank you so much for this great article.….as you can imagine, we here in the Eureka Springs are are completely traumatized by the thought of this terrible project!
    Thanks again, Barbara Kellogg

Leave a Reply