Public Hearings Held Over SWEPCO Transmission Lines

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A proposal to build a nearly 50 mile transmission line through Benton and Carroll counties sparked controversy Monday (July 15) at a public hearing in Eureka Springs.

Crowds opposed to the transmission lines gathered to let their voices are heard by the Arkansas Public Services Commission. Southwestern Electric Power Company has six proposed routes from Berryville to Centerton. One route is near Thorncrown Chapel.

A group called Save the Ozarks wants to preserve the area's beauty.

“Tourism is our second or third largest industry in the state and SWEPCO seems to care nothing for that,” said Doug Stowe with Save the Ozarks.

Faith Pettit-Shah says the lines would run through her farm near the white river.

“When we heard about it we said “Let’s retire early,’” she said. We quit our jobs in Washington D.C., and now my full-time job is to defeat this poorly, poorly proposed proposal."

The plan comes from Southwest Power Pool, a nine-state transmission organization working across the region on what they propose would be lower utility rates from the new lines.

SWEPCO officials say the lines are needed to provide enough electricity to the growing area.

The Arkansas Public Service Commission will hold public hearings throughout the rest of the week in Benton and Carroll counties. A meeting will be held on Aug. 26 where the commission will provide evidence and public comments will be taken.

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