Saluda commissioners denounce Duke’s modernization plan

Published 11:13 pm Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Saluda Board of Commissioners passed a resolution on Monday, Aug. 10 to formally oppose Duke Energy’s Western Carolinas Modernization Plan.

Discussion on the subject began early in the August meeting with Saluda residents Archie Hardy and Karen Bultman providing public comments in support of the potential resolution.

“I think the city should stand behind the residents on the Duke power line,” said Bultman. “It will impact a lot of our neighbors and the beauty of this country.”

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Hardy requested a special meeting, and wishes to invite Duke representatives to answer questions that Saluda residents may have. He also plans to spearhead a letter writing campaign.

“In my experience, I know the first thing that politicians read are letters to the editor,” said Hardy. “I think it would mean a lot, and we have a good thing going.”

Susie Welsh, Saluda Arts Festival director, formally made the request for the Saluda commissioners to take a united stand against Duke Energy’s $320 million Western Carolinas Transmission Enhancement Plan.

The project’s web of nearly 40 route combinations would potentially affect Polk, Buncombe, Hendersonville, Greenville and Spartanburg counties.

“Whether you are fortunate enough to have been born here or find this beautiful place at some other point in your life, you are here because of the beauty of the mountains and the sense of community that is unique to our county,” said Welsh.

“The transmission lines will ruin all of that,” she added.

There are three potential routes initially directing power from the 500 kilowatt Campobello substation slated for construction in 2016.

These are known as 2B, 3C and 4. They will carry the electricity for approximately 25 miles before splitting into an assortment of combinations.

One of the three, route 4, would keep the transmission line out of Polk County entirely.

The effects will be felt throughout Western North Carolina regardless, according to Welsh and other project opponents.

“Even if you’re not seeing it across your property you will feel the effects one way or another, and certainly economically,” Welsh said.

Following her presentation, Welsh urged the commissioners to pass a motion and sign a resolution opposing Duke’s transmission project, citing the numerous areas in which the 40 miles of transmission line would have an impact.

“It will have an extremely negative effect on the tourist industry and the people who come here for second homes,” said Welsh, “our most tax producing income revenues.”

Mayor Fred Baisden proceeded to read aloud a letter submitted to Saluda by the Polk County Board of Commissioners.

“On behalf of the Polk County Commissioners and the citizens of Polk County, I am sending this letter to express our concern in regards to the new Duke Energy proposed 45-mile, 230-kilovolt transmission line. We believe the construction of this line is inconsistent with our county’s vision. It would adversely affect the rural atmosphere and natural beauty of our county. It will not enhance the quality of life for all of our citizens. I ask your board to please join the Polk County Board of Commissioners and approve a resolution opposed to the Duke Energy transmission lines.”

The Saluda commissioners promptly passed the provided resolution that encourages Duke Energy to locate the transmission lines outside the boundaries of Polk County.

“Being one family of two options, it’s a big deal,” said Finance Officer Julie O’Steen on the resolution’s approval. “I have two potential lines going through my property.”

Welsh encouraged meeting attendees and all Saluda residents to make comments by calling 888-238-0373, emailing or visiting the project website at

The public input period has been extended by Duke Energy, and will continue through Aug 31.

The full text of the resolution follows:


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 above­ground 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 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 City of Saluda 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.