The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

February 28, 2014

Your View: SWEPCO, leave us alone

EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. — When I first learned of the Shipe Road-to-Kings River power line proposal, I began researching how these 345-kV lines are used. I learned that Maine regards its 345-kV power lines as its interstate highway system, used for the distribution of electric power. The state uses 345-kV power lines to export excess power to Canada, similar to the ones proposed to be built here.

The Southwest Power Pool Electric Energy Network and the Regional State Committee of the power pool — of which the Arkansas Public Service Commission’s commissioner Olan Reeves is president — are outspoken advocates of an electric distribution strategy and a cost allocation method known as highway-byway, according to documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In the highway-byway approach, 345-kV power lines are used to encircle areas of local distribution and provide “robust” capacity, whether anyone needs it or wants it.

It seems that the Shipe Road-to-Kings River power line project has its roots in a power distribution strategy that lies at the core of both the Southwest Power Pool and the Arkansas Public Service Commission.

In 2012, APSC commissioner Reeves, serving as president of the Southwest Power Pool’s Regional State Committee, spelled out his committee’s unconditional and unanimous support for the highway-byway approach.

Is it a surprise that the commission would let a judge’s ruling stand that would put the highway-byway system in place for Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri, when one of the three members of the commission has so much invested in the approach?

During a public hearing in Eureka Springs, Ark., in which area residents patiently waited their turn to address the judge, one of the employees of the commission confided that the Shipe Road-to-Kings River power line proposal is essentially a test case. While he refused to elaborate, it’s clear that if the Shipe Road-to-Kings River power line proposal passes the commission, people can expect more power lines of massive scale and disproportion to come on like a chokehold in the Ozarks. Most of these power lines are already drawn on the Southwest Power Pool’s maps, and it appears that AEP/SWEPCO and the APSC (particularly commissioner Reeves) are each fully committed to the Southwest Power Pool’s highway-byway plan for area-wide energy distribution.

When it comes to electric power, we prefer it be homegrown, and AEP/SWEPCO can take its ugly poles, its unwanted lines and its unwarranted plans and put them in a place where folks no longer care about the natural environment. The Ozarks is not the place for what’s been proposed, and I pray that the power pool and APSC can wake up to the reality of this situation. I ask them to please pull the plug on AEP/SWEPCO’s application.

Doug Stowe

Save the Ozarks

Eureka Springs, Ark.

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