Reading Monday’s article about businesses and farmers concerned over Duke Energy’s proposed “Foothills” transmission line, one gets the impression Duke officials just don’t get it.
A Duke spokesman talks as if the utility will proceed with designing and engineering the line as soon it chooses its preferred route.
That’s not how it will work. The nation’s largest utility faces a bruising battle unless it picks a route that avoids significant vistas, farmlands, neighborhoods and natural features. That seems all but impossible, barring Duke announcing some unforeseen breakthrough at tonight’s meeting of the Public Staff of the N.C. Utilities Commission at Blue Ridge Community College.
It is not just a matter of the company choosing a route and starting design and engineering, as spokesman Ryan Mosier suggested in Monday’s article. The N.C. Utilities Commission will have to approve any route in North Carolina, as will its counterpart in South Carolina.
Although these agencies are unlikely to block the project, disagreement over a route could lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to get involved. And no matter what route Duke chooses — even if it keeps its promise to minimize environmental and social impacts — the utility will face opposition and possibly lawsuits from affected landowners.