SWEPCO asks for new hearing on Route 33

Friday, March 14, 2014 ~ Updated 1:58 PM
SWEPCO's petition filed today (Friday March 14) included this map showing Routes 33 and 109.

Southwestern Electric Power Co. today filed with the Arkansas Public Service Commission a request for a rehearing and also asks the APSC to reconsider whether its proposed Route 33 is unreasonable, as was ruled by the commission's administrative law judge seven weeks ago.

Judge Connie Griffin announced her decision in Orders 32 and 33 following SWEPCO's April 2013 application to construct about 50 miles of 340,000 Volt transmission lines, each 150 feet tall and requiring an herbicide-cleared right-of-way 150 feet wide along the route.

Order 32, issued by Griffin on Jan. 17 of this year, granted SWEPCO approval of its application but only along Route 109, its least-favored route and the one that goes through two southern Missouri counties as well as Benton and Carroll counties.

Order 33, issued by Griffin on Jan. 21, stated that the two remaining route alternatives, Routes 33 and 108, were "not reasonable."

In its pleading entered today, March 14, SWEPCO asks for a limited rehearing only on the subjects of the selection of Route 109 and the deeming of Route 33 as unreasonable. The utility also is asking for clarification of some of the judge's directives in Order 32.

"They want a rehearing limited specifically to Route 33 and whether it is reasonable," explained Pat Costner, founder and director of grassroots opposition group Save The Ozarks. "They do not want the whole ball of wax reconsidered."

Previously, SWEPCO asked for a similar "do-over" on the issue of whether the new power line is needed, she said, and they were allowed it in a sort of "back-door maneuver" with paperwork, Costner noted.

"So if history repeats itself, the commissioners will likely give SWEPCO a do-over regarding the selection of its preferred path, Route 33," Costner said. "We may all have to take another trip to Little Rock."

The commissioners must rule on SWEPCO's request within 30 days, under the law.

For much more developing news on this issue, read next week's Lovely County Citizen, on stands Wednesday evening, March 19.

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