FORT SMITH (KFSM)- Hundreds of people came to the Fort Smith Convention Center Wednesday (Feb. 18) for one of the final public hearings in Arkansas regarding the Clean Line Energy transmission line project.
The $2 billion, 700-mile long transmission line would stretch from northwest Oklahoma to western Tennessee through the entire state of Arkansas. The route of the line has not been finalized, but in a proposed plan, it would go through Sequoyah County in Oklahoma and Crawford, Franklin and Johnson counties in Arkansas, along with several other counties to the east.
More than 300 people packed the convention center, most came out to oppose the project.
"If you keep trampling on the rights of 'we the people' you may have another American Revolution on your hands," one them commented.
Some argue their property value will plummet if the transmission line goes through their property.
“What will this do to the foundations of our homes? What will this do to the foundation of your chicken house? To the foundation of your cattle barns?” one person in attendance said.
Others said they're worried about their health, which Mario Hurtado, co-founder of Clean Line, said shouldn't be a concern.
"These are not high levels of electrical or magnetic fields,” Hurtado said. “There's been lots of studies done on these types of fields and there's no evidence of any health risks."
Hurtado said the company will build a converter station in Central Arkansas to along with the separate transmission line project.
"That convertor station would have a capacity of 500 megawatts," he said. "That's about the size of a new power plant."
Hurtado said, pending approval from the U.S. Department of Energy, construction could start next year and the transmission line would be up and running by 2018.
The 90-day comment period where those with concerns could come forward was set to end on March 19, but it has been extended to April 20. The Department of Energy is also reviewing the environmental and financial impact of the proposed transmission line.