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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.

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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

 

 

Hendersonville Leaders offer to partner with Duke Power in shocking and upsetting move

Hendersonville’s leaders have just become some of the first local representatives in the western Carolinas to offer to work with Duke Power.  Instead of submitting comments or passing resolutions opposing Duke’s Western Carolinas Modernization Plan, the Hendersonville City Manager and City Council have offered to let Duke Power build their transmission line through the city of Hendersonville.  Instead of standing with the people they are supposed to represent, City Manager John Connet has decided to help Duke Power devastate our local communities.

The Hendersonville Lightning has quite a few revealing quotes from both Connet and City Councilman Jeff Miller:

“We would request that any easement agreement obtained by Duke Energy for this project include a provision that allows the construction of a greenway within the transmission line right of way,” City Manager John Connet wrote to Duke Energy district manager Craig DeBrew on Tuesday. “In addition, we would request that Duke Energy serve as an active partner in the construction of a greenway segment within the city of Hendersonville.”

Miller acts as if this offer to Duke Power will be more constructive in the long run, saying:

“I just got tired of everybody else saying ‘not in my backyard’ and we wanted to say if it had to be done let’s parallel, use the same right of way and add to it,” he said. “My stand on it, is if this thing has to be done let’s keep it off the ridgelines. We’ll ask them to work with us in the city to keep the damage down to a minimum and participate with us in construction of the greenway.”

While a greenway under the power plants might sound like a nice idea, Duke Power has never allowed this in the past.  Yet Connet, Miller, and the rest of the City Council felt it wise to ask for it in this case.  Duke Power corporate spokesman Tom Williams had this to say on the issue of potential greenways:

“Not that I’m aware of,” Williams said when asked whether any Duke transmission line corridor doubles as a greenway. “I’ve never seen that before. We seek to buy the easement so often other people still own the property…. We don’t want to get involved in that because it’s private property.”

Please tell your leaders, if you live in Henderson County, that you want them to join the rest of us in opposing Duke Power’s plan, not for laying out the red carpet for them.  If we are to work with Duke Power on this project, at least make them demonstrate a real need for this transmission line, instead of just accepting it and offering up our homes and mountains.

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

 

Local representatives offering little help to fight Duke Power

Local representatives of our mountain communities are finding that they have little power in the growing fight against Duke Power and their controversial Western Carolina Modernization Project.  The Henderson County Commissioners feel like they have little ammunition to use against Duke Power, and even influential state politicians like State Senator Tom Apodoca and Representative Chuck McGrady have said they will be able to have little impact in this effort.  From the Hendersonville Lightning: 

“I haven’t seen anything like this since the building height fight,” Apodaca said, referring to a battle that resulted in a city referendum defeating a proposed high-rise condo development in downtown Hendersonville.

Like McGrady and state Rep. Chris Whitmire, Apodaca said he’s heard plenty about the power line.

“I’ve been in touch with Duke six times,” he said Monday. “We’re working on it. Our attorneys are working on it. And the sad news is we’re coming up empty.”

However, this article does offer some new information about what other reasons Duke Power might have for building their proposed new lines.  Apparently, a major expansion of a “manufacturing plant” is coming soon in the western Carolinas.  This expansion of the energy infrastructure is vital to this.  Tom Apodaca commented on this, saying:

A big manufacturing plant expansion “is depending on the plant for electricity,” he said. “We’ve been involved with this. The plant’s already here. Matter of fact they’ve asked for a letter from me” ensuring the new capacity will come.

With possibly little help coming from local legislatures, it’s vitally important that people continue to organize and work together to give our region a strong and unified voice.  The Carolina Land Coalition believes we can help develop and empower this voice, so stand with us against Duke Power!