HISID votes to oppose all SWEPCO transmission line routes

Monday, May 27, 2013

HOLIDAY ISLAND -- Holiday Island has added its name to the growing list of government entities, organizations and individuals who have come out in opposition to SWEPCO's proposed 345 kV transmission line through Carroll County.

At Monday's board meeting, fellow commissioners heard Ken Brown make a case for opposing the project.

He said although Arkansas has the second-toughest Freedom of Information Act in the country, it has the weakest rules on accountability by electric coops, citing as an example the unsuccessful struggle of local citizens two years ago to get a member-nominated candidate on the Carroll Electric board election ballot, implying that citizens' attempts to participate in what should be cooperative governance had been soundly blocked.

One of SWEPCO's six proposed routes comes near Holiday Island, but not through it. It crosses near the intersection of Arkansas Highway 23 and 187.

"This is the gateway to Holiday Island," Brown said. "If you go right, you come to the main gate; left, the back gate."

He questioned why SWEPCO had bought land for the Kings River substation "before it was approved by the Public Service Commission?"

"I think we need to support our neighbors," he said, referring to the outcry of many in Eureka Springs and the surrounding area who are opposed to all six routes.

"One hundred and sixty-foot poles is 16 stories in the air," he said. "If you think we have problems now selling lots, just wait until these things go in."

Save the Ozarks co-founder Pat Costner spoke to the board, saying her 135 acres, which lies "along the old railroad bed between Holiday Island and Eureka Springs," is on four of the six proposed routes.

"Our issue is all the lines," she said. "I would urge you to oppose the entire project because tourism in Arkansas is the second largest industry in the state. It brings in $5 billion a year, mostly in Northwest Arkansas."

She outlined what putting in the transmission line entails, such as what it would take to place 300 towers, just short of the height of the existing Holiday Island cell phone tower, in the area.

Commissioner Bruce Larson said he would be more concerned about the route that goes near the old railroad station in Eureka Springs. He said his background is in obtaining rights-of-way and property acquisition for high-voltage transmission lines.

But when it came time to vote, Larson and all four other commissioners voted unanimously to oppose the entire project and said they will send a letter to the Public Service Commission to that effect.

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