Here is Duke Power’s justification for the Western Carolina Modernization Project

Well, now we’ve got it straight from their own mouths.  Duke Power’s Western Regional general manager Robert Sipes and has written a guest column in the Asheville Citizen-Times, arguing that while his company will listen to concerned citizens, they also must do what is best for the energy infrastructure of the entire region.  Some highlights include:

Why build a new substation and transmission line?

The existing transmission infrastructure that serves the region is simply not able to provide adequate capacity in the coming years. The new substation and transmission line will connect the new plant and the region to our main transmission system, making it possible to jointly produce and deliver energy to benefit customers in both states. This ultimately saves money for everyone.

The closest location to the main transmission infrastructure is a 525 kV transmission line that runs between McGuire Nuclear Station in North Carolina and Oconee Nuclear Station in South Carolina. And the closest and most viable location to connect to that line is in Campobello, South Carolina, near where it crosses Interstate 26.

Sipes also says:

The need is real and so too are the emotions property owners have expressed in response to these plans. That’s what makes this work difficult, and why we are using a robust site selection process that’s time tested and considered an industry best.

Either way, it’s clear that the only way to reach a solution preferable to the people of western North and South Carolina is to continue to submit comments to Duke Power and to continue to make your voice heard.  You can submit comments online at http://dukeenergyfoothillsproject.power-viz.com/ or email WCTransmissionEnhancements@duke-energy.com.

Duke Power will be taking comments until August 31, so you’ve only got a couple more weeks!  And even if you’ve already sent an email, send another!  The more comments, the better.

Independent Study Needed On Powerline

We agree! Additional independent study should be prepared on the overall need, scope, impact and alternatives for the Foothills Modernization Project

Independent Study Needed On Powerline

Read the full article here at Blue Ridge Now!

An independent analysis of future power demand could show whether the transmission line is as essential as Duke says it is. This would not be the first time such a study has been done on a Duke project in the region.

 

Duke Power 2014 Integrated Resource Plan

This document is Duke Power’s annual report to both the North Carolina Utilities Commission and the Public Service Commission of South Carolina describing their long-range plans.  In 2014’s report, you will find that Duke Power mentioned nothing about the creation of any new transmission lines.

From the report itself:

There are presently no plans for construction of any 161 kV and above transmission lines.

The lines that have been proposed as part of Duke’s Western Carolinas Modernization Plans are 230 kV.  Why is there such a discrepancy in Duke’s current plans and their most recent IRP, which supposedly detailed their future plans for the coming years?

For more information about Duke’s IRP, please click here to read Duke Power’s Integrated Resource Plan for 2014.

Tempers flare at BRCC meeting with Duke Power representatives

Duke Power held another informational meeting at Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock this week, and many local citizens voiced their opposition to Duke’s Western Carolinas Modernization Project.  While many local residents flocked to the event to voice their concerns and hear from Duke Power directly, Duke Power’s representatives did not actually take questions from the audience.

At one point during the meeting, Travis Rockey, a Flat Rock resident, silenced the crowd with sharp whistles to announce that Gail Simpson, a Duke representative, was in charge and would be taking questions from the audience. That turned out not to be true.

The meeting consisted of different stations that residents could visit to view maps and other information and speak with Duke representatives. The maps showed many possible routes, broken into 44 sections that could be connected to complete the line.

Rockey said the meeting was a “disaster” because Duke “separated everybody like sheep and they don’t have any answers. What they’re doing is just feeding people little bits of information.”

“This whole meeting was a setup and Duke must have paid their PR firm a hell of a lot of money to be able to set this kind of meeting up,” he added. “They divided everybody and they’re trying to conquer them.”

Clearly, the people of Western North Carolina and South Carolina want answers to their very valid questions.  Duke Power simply is not providing these answers at the moment.

Read more here at Blue Ridge Now to get more details from this meeting, and be sure to also check out an editorial on how Duke Power’s public process is only serving to rile up citizens, instead of assuage their concerns.

More groups are forming to oppose Duke Power

The people of western North Carolina are certainly not lying down in the face of Duke Power’s new energy plans for the area!  Duke Power has recently announced plans for a new project dubbed “Western Carolinas Modernization,” which includes a proposal to build a new transmission line through Henderson, Buncombe, Polk, and other local counties.  Naturally, many residents and business owners have not reacted positively to this proposal, citing potentially property devaluation, environmental damage, and effects to local businesses as their main concerns.  Not to mention, it would certainly scar our beautiful mountain views!

In the Asheville Citizen-Times, many local citizens are speaking out against this project.  Mills River resident Jim Sexton is worried about Duke Power losing land to Duke Power:

“I have a 150-wide easement on my property that is dedicated for Duke to use transmission lines and is under their control and there is no way I want another 150 feet taken by Duke from my property,” said Jim Sexton. “I’ve already got two towers on 18 acres.”

Many people quoted are also worried that Duke Power has not sufficiently examined other options, or that they have underestimated how much of any new transmission lines could be built along existing power line corridors.  People from Western North Carolina are not the only ones concerned about this project, however – the Asheville Citizen-Times also details, at this link, how many groups are also forming to oppose Duke Power in upstate South Carolina.  They share many of the same concerns as residents of North Carolina, as you can see in the following quote:

Some came concerned about the aesthetics of 140-foot tall transmission towers running through pristine mountains or cutting a path across equestrian trails. Others feared the impact on a burgeoning luxury real estate market. Still others had health or environmental concerns.

“What we all question is the rationale for disruption to our ecosystem and/or our economy, environment for something that’s not needed, potentially,” said Cynthia Boyle, a business owner.

Those in South Carolina have also begun filing lawsuits:

Also Tuesday, Spartanburg attorney Patrick Knie filed a legal petition in Spartanburg County Circuit Court in an attempt to force Duke to release more information about the plans.

Knie is worried about how the substation would affect the house and 20 acres that his wife owns about 1,000 feet from the proposed development site at the intersection of Highway 11 and West Frontage Road near Campobello.

Knie said he and his wife, Grace Knie, want access to Duke’s planning documents and to the property of about 200 acres where it plans the substation and perhaps to take some depositions.

He said two streams and a lake on the property where the substation is planned raise environmental concerns and he and his wife are concerned about the prospect of continuous noise.

Click here and here to read both of these articles from the Citizen-Times in their entirety.

This all goes to show that there are still too many questions that need to be answered regarding this project.

Q & A with Duke Power

The Asheville Citizen-Times has just published a terrific interview with Tom Williams, Duke Power’s Director of External Relations.  Click here to read the full article, but also check out some particularly interesting tidbits below:

Question: Why does the Asheville area need energy imported from another region?

Answer: The region’s power consumption has doubled since the 1970s, and peak needs in hot and cold weather are showing bigger swings. “We have to be prepared to meet these extreme weather events on the system or we have reliability problems and have to do structure-rotating blackouts,” Williams said.

Q: Has Duke considered using solar energy to bridge the power needs?

A: The site of the coal plant will be home to a solar farm, its size not yet determined. Large-scale solar power isn’t a pragmatic option for a mountainous region and won’t be reliable enough to meet demands when energy needs peak on the hottest summer days or coldest winter nights.

Q: Instead of creating routes in forested areas or near homes, why doesn’t Duke use existing transmission lines and rights-of-way?

A: Some potential routes do include existing paths, but varying kilovolt lines have different right-of-way requirements. “You can’t run a 230-kilovolt line on a 100-kilovolt tower. The towers are specifically designed to serve the weight of the wire, the ice load on the wire, the topography based on the turns on the wire,” Williams said. “We have looked at where we can bundle existing wires together on existing lines, and we are considering that seriously. We would much rather add capacity to an existing 230-line than build a whole new right-of-way. We do that whenever we can. It’s significantly less expensive and less intrusive.”

Again, to read the full interview – which I urge everyone to do – please click here to be taken to the Asheville Citizen-Times website.

Please sign this petition to stop Duke Energy!

Some of the great organizers in western North Carolina and the foothills of South Carolina have created this terrific Change.org petition to gather support to stop Duke Power’s new transmission line project in our area.  This is a great way to make your voice heard and show that you want Duke Power to put a halt to their Western Carolinas Modernization Project.

Signing this petition will show that you want more answers, more justification, and more clarification for this project.  It also shows that you do not want miles and miles of destructive and invasive transmission lines devastating our beloved mountains and foothills, cratering property values, harming local businesses, and staining our pristine and beloved environment.

Sign the Stop Duke Power Change.org petition right here!