Polk commissioners oppose Duke power lines through county

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Polk County has officially declared its opposition to Duke Energy’s plan to run transmission power lines through the county.

Commissioners met Monday, Aug. 10 and unanimously approved a resolution against any lines running through Polk County.

County manager Marche Pittman presented information to the public including that the public input date has been extended to Aug. 31 and a map explaining current power lines through the county and proposed routes for Duke’s new lines affecting Polk County.

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County staff composed a packet of information regarding Duke’s plans that includes contact information and statutes Duke has to follow as well as other information.

County packet information can be found at polknc.org. Hard copies are available at the county manager’s office in the Womack building in Columbus. Input is also being accepted from the public by Duke Energy at WCModernization@duke-energy.com.

Pittman showed a map of 40 KV power lines that exist through Polk County currently as well as a 100 KV line that exists (100-120 ft. high) approximately four miles in Polk County. Pittman said one of the proposed routes follows an existing route, which cuts through a portion of Saluda.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson said he drove up Hogback Mountain Road and to stand there and look at the 100 KV line, it can be seen for miles.

“If you want to get a sense of what a new transmission line is going to look like, go up there and look at that,” said Gasperson. “It is astonishing.”

He said the new towers are proposed to be 140 ft. high, sometimes higher and the existing lines are 100-120 ft. in height.

Commissioner Shane Bradley agreed with Gasperson, saying the current lines run right over his property and it’s been an eyesore ever since.

Gasperson also said he and commissioner Keith Holbert met with Duke officials last Thursday as well as county planner Cathy Ruth. He said it became apparent Duke officials are listening to the public, saying he told Duke about Polk being a small, rural county that is making an effort to become more agricultural. Gasperson also said he feels Duke knows what the county’s equine economy is about, “and they are paying attention in a big way.”

“You can’t give up,” Gasperson said.

Holbert said it may not seem like it, but Polk and state officials have done a lot behind the scenes. Commissioner chair Tom Pack also met with Duke officials last Thursday after Gasperson and Holbert met with them.

Gasperson discussed a real estate deal that was about to go through and Duke’s plans were enough to kill the deal.

“For those residents who received those letters (from Duke Energy), it was like receiving a heart attack in the mail,” said Gasperson.

Commissioner Michael Gage said he spoke with Rep. Chris Whitmire to express the county’s concerns and Whitmire was very open to the county’s discussions.

Holbert also said Whitmire called him and he has been very involved.

Commissioners heard from four residents on Monday urging the county to approve the resolution.

Following is the full text of Polk County’s resolution opposing the location of the Duke Energy transmission reliability enhancement lines in Polk County:

WHEREAS, following a comprehensive evaluation of the energy system, Duke Energy determined the need to invest in new and existing transmission lines and substations to meet growing demand; and

WHEREAS, this $320 million investment includes building a new transmission substation near Campobello, S.C., and connecting it to the Asheville power plant with a new approximately 45-mile, 230-kilovolt (kV) transmission line; and

WHEREAS, the proposed transmission line will potentially run through Buncombe, Henderson and Polk counties in North Carolina, and Greenville and Spartanburg counties in South Carolina; and

WHEREAS, Duke Energy’s goal is to minimize impacts on environmental and cultural resources, as well as homes and businesses; and

WHEREAS, Polk County was rated as one of the “Top 10 Best Rural Places to Live” by Progressive Farmer magazine in 2007; and

WHEREAS, on March 15, 2010, the Polk County Board of Commissioners adopted the Polk County 20/20 Vision Plan which confirms a commitment by Polk County Government to vigorously protect Polk County’s rural atmosphere and serene natural beauty; and

WHEREAS, the Polk County 20/20 Vision Plan also confirms a commitment that visionary and pragmatic county and municipal governments will strive to work together in a cooperative manner as they continue to enhance the quality of life for all Polk County citizens; and

WHEREAS, the average height of Duke Energy’s 230-kV transmission line’s above-ground structures will be approximately 140 feet; and

WHEREAS, there will be an average of 1,000 feet between each of Duke Energy’s 230- kV transmission line’s above-ground structures; and

WHEREAS, locating Duke Energy’s 230-kV transmission lines anywhere within the boundaries of Polk County will adversely affect the rural atmosphere and serene natural beauty of our county; and

WHEREAS, locating Duke Energy’s 230-kV transmission lines anywhere within the boundaries of Polk County will not enhance the quality of life for all Polk County citizens; and

WHEREAS, real estate sales and tourism are important aspects of Polk County’s rural economy; and

WHEREAS, locating Duke Energy’s 230-kV transmission lines within the boundaries of Polk County could have a deleterious effect on the view shed of the entire county, thereby negatively effecting current homeowners, potential homeowners, tourism dollars, and business revenue; and

WHEREAS, locating Duke Energy’s 230-kV transmission lines within the boundaries of Polk County could have a potential impact on Polk County’s annual operating budget due to lost real estate tax revenue ranging from $16,000 to $200,000 annually; and

WHEREAS, segments of the proposed Duke Energy 230-kV transmission line within the boundaries of Polk County encroach upon the newly designated water supply classification area of Lake Adger, as well as property protected by Farmland Preservation easements, which were not included in the maps presented at the Duke Energy public meetings.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Polk County Board of Commissioners encourages Duke Energy to locate the proposed 230-kV transmission lines outside the boundaries Polk County.

Adopted this 10th day of August, 2015.