Duke to pick transmission route sooner

Published 2:30 pm Friday, August 14, 2015

By Leah Justice


Duke Energy officials announced Friday they will name a planned route of transmission lines in early October instead of the previous deadline of January 2016.

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Duke Energy sent a press release Friday morning making the announcement.

“Duke Energy will announce its recommended route for a new transmission line between Campobello, S.C. and Asheville, N.C. in early October, three months earlier than originally planned,” states the press release.

The release says Duke has been considering a series of possible line segments for the approximate 40-mile line to ensure environmental and community impacts can be minimized as much as possible.

“We’ve been listening closely to potentially impacted communities and landowners along the study routes and have heard overwhelmingly from them the need to expedite the review process to reduce the period of uncertainty for selecting the final route,” said Robert Sipes, Duke Energy’s western North Carolina regional general manager. “We’ve expanded our team, accelerated the schedule and are committing to complete our comprehensive process for route selection by early October.”

Duke Energy said they welcome input as this will be a transparent process to all interested parties.

Duke is still accepting public comment until Aug. 31.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution against any transmission lines going through Polk County as well as the City of Saluda Board of Commissioners. Columbus Town Council also plans to approve a resolution against the plans during its regular meeting scheduled for next Thursday. Mills River in Henderson County also approved a resolution against lines in their municipality last week.

During the Polk County Board of Commissioner meeting on Monday, Aug. 10, commissioners Ray Gasperson, Keith Holbert and Tom Pack said they had all spoken to Duke Energy officials and stated their opposition to lines running through the county.

Polk’s resolution includes that Polk County was rated as one of the “Top 10 Best Rural Places to Live” by Progressive Farmer in 2007 and locating Duke’s 230-kV (kilovolt) transmission lines anywhere within the boundaries of the county will adversely affect the rural atmosphere and serene natural beauty of the county.

“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 the lost real estate tax revenue ranging from $16,000 to $200,000 annually,” states Polk’s resolution.

The resolution also says segments of the proposed transmission line within the boundaries of Polk encroach upon the newly designated water supply classification area of Lake Adger as well as property protected by farmland preservation easements.

The 230-kilovolt power line will connect the western Carolinas region and Duke Energy’s new Asheville power plant to a substation to be built in Campobello, according to Duke’s release Friday.

“It is a key part of the company’s $1.1 billion Western Carolinas modernization project that includes replacing Asheville coal plant with a new natural gas power plant,” states the release. “The project will significantly reduce emissions and water use and help meet the growing demand in the Western Carolinas. Based on current natural gas prices, it will also produce electricity 35 percent less expensively and significantly enhance long-term power reliability in the region.”

Duke Energy held three public informational meetings that were all packed with residents. Local officials have also heard many public comments regarding Duke’s plan and how it will negatively impact the area.

Duke Energy says to date it has received 3,000 public comments on the project.

Duke Energy’s website on the project is https://www.duke-energy.com/western-carolinas-modernization/foothills.asp.