Tell Henderson County Commissioners you want clean energy!

On January 4, 2016 at 5:30 PM Henderson County will vote on a resolution that wholeheartedly endorses Duke Energy’s Western Carolinas Modernization project despite its inclusion of an unnecessary, additional 192-MW “peaking unit.”

Duke Energy is on the record saying that they want to partner with our local communities to meet future energy demand through expanded efficiency programs and by building more renewable energy infrastructure. However, MountainTrue questions their intent considering their failure to prioritize fossil free solutions in their filings to the utilities commission.

The resolution is on the Henderson County Commission’s consent agenda, so please speak at tonight’s INFORMAL COMMENTS at the commissioner’s meeting.

We need you to urge Henderson County to fully embrace a cleaner, safer, more affordable energy future by issuing a resolution that withholds their support for the “peaking unit”, and endorses a plan that:

  • Spends ratepayer’s money more wisely on energy efficiency and alternative sources that reduce utility bills in the future, rather than leaves us vulnerable to fluctuating gas prices.

  • Creates local jobs and keeps money in our local economy.

  • Gives us more independence from fossil fuel infrastructure and avoids the need for more invasive transmission lines and gas plants in the future.

Henderson County has a great opportunity to shape a better future. We need your help in making sure that we continue to stand united toward a better, cleaner future for Henderson County and all of Western North Carolina.

Please attend!

Tonight, January 4, 2016 at 5:30 pm

1 Historic Courthouse Square, Hendersonville NC

September 15: Public meeting of Tryon Board of Commissioners and Duke Energy Officials

Tryon Daily Bulletin

After deciding not to approve a resolution against Duke Energy’s modernization plan that could mean transmission towers being installed through Polk County, the Tryon Board of Commissioners has scheduled a meeting with Duke officials on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m.

The meeting will be at the Tryon Fire Department with the purpose of hearing from Duke officials regarding the new transmission line. Read more

Special Meeting: Hendersonville City Council

Date/Time: September 10, 12:30 p.m.

Location: City Hall, 145 Fifth Ave. E.

Hendersonville City Council will consider a resolution regarding the Foothills 230 KV transmission line project through Hendersonville proposed by Duke Energy. For more information contact City Clerk Tammie Drake: 828-697-3005

Protest Planned on September 12th in Mills River at Valley Ag

MILLS RIVER, NC – On Saturday, September 12, 2015, from 3pm to 7pm, a protest will be held on the property of the Valley Ag store located on Highway 280 in Mills River.

Coordinators of the Mills River Homeowners Association Coalition are encouraging all area residents to join in together for the protest against proposed Duke Energy power line expansion.

“This is everyone’s fight and we encourage all homeowners and business owners to join this protest on September 12,” says Greg Van Voorhis, president of the Mill Ridge Homeowners Association. “We cannot stop vocalizing our opposition to these pending plans to bring power lines through western North Carolina. Duke Energy needs to continually hear how concerned we are about this situation.”

All area residents are encouraged to sign up and join the protest. To participate, and for more information, email Dukeprotest@gmail.com.

“We know that dozens of residents from the High Vista, Cummings Cove, Mills Pointe, Willow Creek Farms and Mill Ridge communities will be participating in this protest,” says Van Voorhis. “More voices means Duke Energy can’t ignore us. That’s why we’re encouraging all Henderson County residents to join in this protest.”

Mills River and other Henderson County communities fall into proposed routes of the Duke Energy Foothills Project. The area contains pristine waterways, farm lands, mountainous trails and other areas that would be negatively impacted by the construction of power lines.

Email dukeprotest@gmail.com for details. We hope to see you there!

Duke Energy answers tough questions from angry crowd hundreds pack public hearing

FlatRockDukeHearingFLAT ROCK, N.C. Duke Energy officials were in the hot seat Thursday night.They took questions from a fired-up crowd at Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock, North Carolina.The meeting was concerning the modernization project expected to bring 45 miles of new power lines to the region.

More than 800 people packed the hearing.For more than an hour, Duke answered tough questions from the Public Staff Utilities Commission.  Then they took questions from the crowd.

One of the questions was, why can’t Duke put lines underground? Officials said they looked into it and it would cost seven times the amount the proposed plan costs.

Another question to Duke was, why the lines can’t go through existing rights of way? Officials said the company is looking to co-locate new lines where possible, but they will still need to build new structures to accommodate all the lines.

Duke Energy officials admitted a study on adverse health effects was inconclusive.

“The most favored solution by all is for Duke to cancel the proposed transmission project,” said a woman.

Many at the public hearing said they feel misled.

“I am appalled by the method they are taking, and I am also appalled by the misinformation,” said Debra Stephens. Duke Energy is looking at four possible routes to put 140-foot power lines.

Spokesman Tom Williams said Duke Energy understands there will be some negative impacts but said a project like this is necessary to keep the lights on.

“It’s booming and there hasn’t been additional infrastructure built in the actual region, in this area really since the 70s,” said Williams.

Stephens said she doesn’t believe there are no other alternatives.

“We are the people that are going to have the base of our economy damaged, the base of our lifetime investment, of individuals, only for them to put corporate money in their pockets,” said Stephens.

Those against the project feel no matter what Duke decides, nobody wins.

“This is infringing on people’s property rights, their life plans, that are completely uprooted if a transmission line comes through their property or their neighborhood,” said Joan Walker with the Carolina Land Coalition.

Duke Energy will announce its final decision on a route in early October.

PLEASE ATTEND this Thursday: Informational meeting with NC Public Staff and Duke Energy representatives

The North Carolina Public Staff has agreed to an informational meeting at Blue Ridge Community College in the CONFERENCE HALL [Note location change!] in Flat Rock, NC, on September 3rd from 6:00 – 9:00 pm.

This meeting is open to the public, but it is not an official public hearing.

The Public Staff will pose questions to Duke Energy representatives concerning this project, criteria, and timeline.  These questions will include many of the questions that the Public Staff has received from the general public, as well as questions developed by the Public Staff.

This is not a hearing and the meeting is not being conducted by the Utilities Commission.  The Public Staff, which is a separate and independent agency that represents the using and consuming public in utilities matters, will conduct the informational meeting. Write your representatives and ask them to call for a public hearing!

Members of the public will have an opportunity to speak for the purpose of raising relevant issues they believe should be considered as part of the process. 

This informational meeting will serve to more fully educate both the general public and the Public Staff with respect to this stage of the project and help bring greater clarity and transparency to the process.

NOTE: Location changed to BRCC Conference Hall (same location as August 13th meeting) [from WHKP].  The Blue Ridge Conference Hall is located at 49 East Campus​ Drive, ​Flat Rock, NC

 

From the Asheville Citizen-Times:

The Utilities Commission public staff is expected to ask Duke representatives about the process, criteria, and timeline used when siting transmission lines, said Christopher Ayers, executive director of that agency.

“The Public Staff has received numerous inquiries from the general public and elected officials regarding the Foothills Transmission Line project and we hope that this informational meeting will serve to more fully educate both the public and our staff,” Ayers said in a statement. “While this is not an official hearing, we believe the exchange of information will address many questions and help bring greater clarity and transparency to the process.”

The Public Staff has an informational webpage providing links to information of interest related to the project:
http://www.pubstaff.commerce.state.nc.us/pselec/Duke-Energy%20Foothills%20Project.html

 

Please join us there to voice your concern! We hope all residents of both NC and SC will come to show just how many people are affected by this.

************************

From N.C. Utilities Commission Public Staff:

The North Carolina Utilities Commission Public Staff will facilitate an informational meeting concerning Duke Energy’s proposed Foothills Transmission Line project on September 3, 2015 from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Blue Ridge Community College Auditorium. During the meeting, the Public Staff will pose questions to Duke Energy representatives concerning the process, criteria, and timeline used when siting transmission lines and the specific process Duke is using for the Foothills project. Members of the public will have an opportunity to speak for the purpose of raising relevant issues for consideration in the process. Organized groups are encouraged to designate speakers to provide comment so that as many communities and interests as possible can be heard. As this informational meeting pertains only to the portion of the project impacting western North Carolina, speakers will be limited to North Carolina residents only. “The Public Staff has received numerous inquiries from the general public and elected officials regarding the Foothills Transmission Line project and we hope that this informational meeting will serve to more fully educate both the public and our staff,” said Christopher Ayers, Executive Director of the Public Staff. “While this is not an official hearing, we believe the exchange of information will address many questions and help bring greater clarity and transparency to the process.”

The Public Staff may be contacted at (919) 733-9277

Duke Energy may be contacted at (919) 508-5400

Read more here

 

 

More than 800 people turn out to SC Public Hearing

THANK YOU to all who attended! Many thanks to MountainTrue for supporting us in having our voices heard! We could not have done it without every single person who took the time to show their concern. Please join us again next Thursday Sept 3rd. for a meeting in front of the North Carolina Public Utilities Staff – united we will make our public interest the priority!

 

Read the press coverage: 

Hendersonville Lightning : Overflow crowd in Landrum opposes power line

WYFF 4 Greenville Television Coverage : Tears, Anger at Packed Meeting…

Citizen-Times & Greenville Online : Power line opponents: Not here, not anywhere

GoUpstate:  South Carolina residents speak out…

Charlotte BizJournal: Anger, suspicion dominate S.C. public hearing…

Greenville Times: Power line opponents: not here, not anywere

Listen to Audio recording from the Public Hearing

 

Photo & text from Hendersonville Lightning:

An overflow crowd of more than 800 people turned out Thursday to urge South Carolina utility regulators to deny Duke Energy’s request to build a 45-mile transmission line from Campobello to the Lake Julian power plant in Arden.

“I have not had one single constituent out of thousands of constituents — I’ve got about 39,000 — I have not had one phone call in favor of this project,” said state Rep. Mike Burns. “Nobody has asked me to get behind this. In fact, the opposite is true. In fact, we have hundreds, you’ll get letters written to your office, even thousands of letters, bazillions of emails, phone calls. The heartburn level for this project has gone astronomical.”

“Not one person in South Carolina benefits from this project,” said State Rep. Doug Brannon, of Landrum. He said an annual report that Duke submitted to the South Carolina PSC in September 2014 did not even mention the Campobello transfer station and the transmission line to Lake Julian.
“This project,” he said, “has crushed real estate values for my constituents.”

Read the Hendersonville Lightning article

From BizJournal:

A common theme among the dozens of speakers was that Duke has secretly wanted the power line to enable it to sell power generated in the Carolinas to other markets, profiting at the expense of local residents.

Sally Rock of Landrum was among several who cited a notation on the deed that showed that the 199 acres Duke bought for the substation (which itself will cover just 17 acres) for $4.9 million was surveyed in September 2014. She concluded Duke knew last fall that it wanted to build the project, but hid that from the community and from the commission.

The executives were not the only familiar faces at the hearing. a frequent critic of Duke and a well-known member of the SELC team that has been fighting the utility over coal-ash issues for years, was in the crowd, too.

He spoke, however, as a resident of the area, not as a representative for the law center.

And he was among those who warned about Duke’s motives and tactics. In his presentation, he argued that the company “hopes to divide and conquer” when it announces the final proposed route in October.

“Duke hopes that two-thirds of us will go away” once the route is announced, Holleman said. “But if it is wrong to do this to all of us, it is wrong to do it to any of us.”

Read the article on Charlotte BizJournal


Notes on Statements from Elected Representatives – please note these are not official quotes:

Senator Corbin
Senator Corbin was the first to speak. He stated on the official record that he is not convinced the project is needed, he does not believe the project will benefit South Carolinians or the people he serves, and said “If Duke can convince the commission this project is necessary, they must stay on existing power lines.”
 
Representative Burns
Representative Burns took the floor next. He said that he had not heard from one single constituent that is in favor of this project. He mentioned Route 4, where his constituents live, and the Greenville Watershed and Boy Scout Camp in that area. He said (off-record) that it is a “preposterous route” and that he is “violently opposed to violating that green space.”  He said there is “No value for us in Greenville County” and that all it will do is lessen property values and deface the pristine green space. He also asked that Duke stay on existing right of ways.
 
Representative Doug Brannon District 38 
SC Representative from District 38 spoke. He stated that 2 of the proposed routes go through his district, and the substation is in his district. He said that the routes affect his house, as well as his mother’s house. He mentioned the fact that only one person thus far has benefitted from the project, and that is the guy that Duke bought the land from. He mentioned the IRP and questioned why Duke is using 3 year old maps, but are claiming they did not know about the project months before it was announced. He said he as recieved 7,000 letters and emails, and read part of one to the group about a constituent who owns 16.8 acres, 10.51 of which would be taken by Duke. He ended by saying “…there is no benefit for this project in South Carolina. It must be stopped.”

Greenville County Councilman Joe Dill
Greenville County Councilman informed the Comissioners that he and the Greenville County Council voted unanimously on 18th day of August to pass a resolution to Greenville County, urging the council to consider alternatives and explore the possibility of using existing lines. He stated he hopes that Duke “would never even bring this to y’all [the commission].”

 

Everyone please share this with your neighbors, and join us next Thursday Sept 3rd. for a meeting in front of the North Carolina Public Utilities Staff – click for more info – we appreciate your time and support!

 

U.S. Congressman Mark Meadows answers questions on Duke Power issue

At a town hall meeting on August 28 at Blue Ridge Community College, US Congressman Mark Meadows – who represents the 11th Congressional District in the US House – took questions on Duke Power’s plans for the western Carolinas.  Meadows encouraged residents to go to next week’s meeting with the NC Utilities Commission, and said residents should be armed with evidence their property values would go down. Quoted in the Hendersonville Lightning, Meadows said:

“What they will listen to is less emotion and more facts, in terms of property values, not only as it’s currently used but the highest and best use.”

Meadows also said that Duke Power has generally been a “good corporate citizen,” which after their recent issues with coal ash spilling into public waterways, seems to be a bit of a stretch.  It’s hard for the people of North Carolina to have any faith in Duke Power doing what is best for residents and local communities when they have a long history of doing whatever they can get away with – consequences be damned – in their pursuit of profit.

Meadows did say that he has called Duke Power representatives, and will continue to do so.  He also hopes that existing transmission lanes can be used for any new lines, but overall, he said that this is a state issue – he’s unlikely to be able to have much of an impact or, it seems, to make it a major priority.

Read the article in the Times-News

Read the article in Hendersonville Lightning