PSC sets SWEPCO hearings schedule

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

LITTLE ROCK -- The staff of the Arkansas Public Service Commission filed for approval Friday to set hearing dates in the SWEPCO Shipe Road 345 kV transmission line application.

Staff and intervenors direct are tentatively scheduled for noon on June 28.

APSC has then requested public comments hearings in Northwest Arkansas on July 15 and 16, time and place to be announced at a later date.

Other dates are SWEPCO rebuttal at noon on July 19, staff and intervenors' surrebuttal at noon on Aug. 7, settlement filing date at noon on Aug. 16, SWEPCO's sur-surrebuttal at noon on Aug. 21, and the APSC hearing at 9:30 a.m. from Aug. 26 to 30.

Monday SWEPCO responded it has no objection to this schedule.

As of Monday, 47 parties had filed petitions to intervene in the application, among them the municipalities of Bentonville, Cave Springs, Garfield, Gateway and Springdale. More than 3,500 comments opposing the transmission line routes had been received by APSC, including those from the City of Eureka Springs and the Town of Beaver.

Several organizations and businesses have also either filed to intervene or written opposition. Among the intervenors are Thorncrown Chapel, Spider Creek Resort, the Bentonville/Bella Vista Trailblazers and Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust.

Wal-Mart, which filed its petition Friday, stated it has entered into a purchase agreement for property in Benton County, and the Route 33 line would traverse the seller's property. The property description identifies it as the "Lowe's Addition" in Bentonville. Wal-Mart says construction of the line could affect its planned use of the property, diminish its value and may affect plans for construction on nearby property.

Thorncrown Chapel filed a joint petition with the American Institute of Architects and the Arkansas chapter of that body. It said that since the chapel's opening in 1980, more than 6 million people have visited it, it has won numerous awards and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Route 91 transmission line would be located 1,000 feet from the chapel, which Thorncrown said would be "detrimental" and "incompatible" because the chapel was "designed to be and is a part of the pristine natural setting and view."

In its petition, Spider Creek objects to Routes 62, 86 and 91, stating they would have a "substantial detrimental impact" on the Beaver Beaver Lake Tail Water Area and Trout Fishery and surrounding area.

The Bentonville/Bella Vista Trailblazers object to Route 91, they said, because it would traverse property they own which would have a negative impact on many miles of existing multi-use trails and other trails under construction, such as the Razorback Greenway from Bella Vista to Fayetteville.

Among those opposing the transmission line are also state representatives Jim Dotson, opposing Route 91 on behalf of the City of Bentonville, and Sen. Cecil Bledsoe and State Rep. Duncan Baird, opposing Route 33 on behalf of Garfield.

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