Local leaders address SWEPCO concerns

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Two top elected officials -- one state and one federal -- have, in the past few days, vocalized their concerns about fears their constituents harbor regarding SWEPCO's proposed 345,000-Volt power line in Northwest Arkansas.

U.S. Sen Mark Pryor, at the last minute before hearings began Monday, has voiced his concern about SWEPCO's power-line plan on behalf of "hundreds of my constituents" who are worried about the negative effects of the plan in a letter to SWEPCO President and COO Venita McCellon-Allen.

"Should this project be approved by the Arkansas Public Service Commission, after justifying its public need, I request SWEPCO take all necessary actions to minimize the power line's impact on the scenic beauty of Northwest Arkansas, to avoid residential and dense population areas and to traverse as few major roads and waterways as possible," Pryor said in the letter.

State Sen. Bryan King, who has previously come out against SWEPCO's proposal, issued a stronger statement on Tuesday, citing not having enough time to thoroughly study the potential impacts of the power line, including on tourism and property values.

"Like many property owners in the affected area, I have concerns that their property values could be significantly affected and they may not be indemnified in full under the process of eminent domain," King stated. "My concern is heightened by the speed in which this proposal is going through the regulatory process.

"While I recognize SWEPCO's authority to apply for a permit to build the transmission lines, I hope the PSC takes into consideration the need to protect the area's economic viability, much of which is based on tourism. The PSC should take more time."

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