Open letter to the Public Service Commission

Published 1:37 pm Friday, August 14, 2015

To the editor:

Duke Energy has announced plans to possibly run new transmission lines through the South Carolina foothills to Asheville, N.C. The plan makes no sense on multiple levels and prompts a series of questions that must be answered before even preliminary planning is appropriate. For example:

Lines already exist for transmitting Duke Energy electricity across South Carolina to the claimed target area, Asheville, N.C. Why isn’t Duke Energy planning to use those lines? If their carrying capacity is inadequate, why isn’t Duke Energy planning to upgrade the carrying capacity of those lines?

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Sub-surface technologies exist for running lines under paved surfaces, as well seabeds. If new larger capacity lines are actually needed, why isn’t Duke Energy planning to bury the proposed new lines rather than building visually disturbing 140 ft. towers every 1,000 feet for their new lines? Why isn’t the state requiring sub-surface installation?

The stated reason for enlarging the carrying capacity of the Duke Energy lines is a projected population growth rate in and around Asheville. Where is the Needs Analysis Report supporting this assumption? Why hasn’t Duke Energy published the study and the data that supports the projected growth rate? When will it be released for public consumption?

What proportion of the electricity carried by the proposed new lines will be directly utilized by Asheville residents?

What proportion of the electricity carried in the proposed new lines will be sold to customers outside of the Asheville area, including out-of-state customers? Where else will the electricity be used?

There are many other questions which have their genesis in Duke Energy’s proposed plan to run new power lines across the foothills of South Carolina to North Carolina. All such questions must be asked and fully answered before South Carolina’s government permits this action. The impact of such construction will have aesthetic, environmental, social, economic, and public health consequences, among others. Such potential impacts require environmental impact studies, real estate value analysis, public input at every level, safety and health evaluations, and concept presentations to the broad range of affected public.

Duke Energy should halt planning for the new power lines until all such issues are clarified.

Dr. Rose O. Hayes
Aiken, S.C.