Tuesday, August 19, 2014

a solar proposal...

Some of my readers will know that friends and I have been pitted against one of the largest power transmission companies in the world, in an attempt to stop them from destroying our properties for a power line that is not necessary, and that had been proposed under false pretenses. What follows is my official proposal to change the dynamics of our relationship.

STO proposal to SWEPCO

Not one of us wants to keep AEP/SWEPCO and the Southwest Power Pool as our sworn enemies for the rest of our lives, but as long as they are trying to build the Shipe Road to Kings River power line, that will be the case. In 2007, the Southwest Power Pool did a study that said that the power line was needed for growth and reliability. Save the Ozarks expert witness, Hyde Merrill, did his study that refuted SWEPCO’s plan. Following Dr. Merrill’s review, even SWEPCO admitted that the reason that they had first proposed for the power line no longer exists. The grid is a dynamic arrangement of power lines, substations, transformers and various providers, each playing their own role in things, and that’s the reason a study that is more than five years old as was this one can no longer be considered valid.

This whole matter seems to have started out with a study that indicated that a new power line might help. Cross examination of a Southwest Power Pool witness revealed that originally SWEPCO only wanted to build a 161 kV power line in response to the study. A utility addicted to profit jumped at the chance to build it, even in the larger 345 kV that the Southwest Power Pool demanded. When the power line was no longer able to be proved necessary in either size, their addiction to growth kept them from admitting the truth, and once they had it in their minds to build it and their CEO saw potential profits in it, the project took on a momentum of its own with no member of the corporation willing to take responsibility for the foolishness of it.

The reputations of AEP/SWEPCO, the Southwest Power Pool and the Arkansas Public Service Commission have been seriously and deservedly battered by the opponents to this power line. How can they attempt to restore their good names? Save the Ozarks can help.

At the beginning of all this, SWEPCO purchased a 40 acre cow pasture on the Kings River as the site to which this power line would be run. The pasture that SWEPCO bought for the excessive price of $600,000 could serve as the cornerstone for SWEPCO’s attempt to redeem itself. I would not trust AEP/SWEPCO and the Southwest Power Pool to have fully put this power line proposal to rest until that 40-acre site has been converted to the first commercial solar development in Carroll County.  A full 40 acres of solar array would go a long ways to alleviate concerns about our growth and the reliability of their system, and it would serve to put them back in a better public relations position in our community. If that 40-acre field was filled with solar panels, those of us who have fought this power line for over a year, might even relax about it, and that 40-acre solar farm would match acre per acre and panel for panel, the largest solar farm in Missouri.

When mistakes are made and called to our attention, we offer apologies and attempt to do whatever we can to make amends and restore ourselves to positions of trust in our communities. The 40-acre site on the Kings turned into an investment in a brighter future would serve both SWEPCO and our local community in a far more meaningful way than the power line they have fought for and we have fought against. If the solar farm on the Kings River were offered as an olive branch, concurrent with the withdrawal of the Shipe Road to Kings River application and closure of the docket 13-041-U, we would welcome it.

As a member of the board of Save the Ozarks, I propose a partnership. We will help SWEPCO and the Southwest Power Pool turn their expensive cow pasture into a state of the art solar farm. It would be a winning solution that will bring credit to SWEPCO. It would be a project we could all feel proud of, and it would take SWEPCO off their position as public enemy number one in Northwest Arkansas.

Doug Stowe

For my usual readers, I conclude, Make, fix and create... but with this note:

If the engineers and attorneys at SWEPCO and the Southwest Power Pool had the advantages of having taken wood shop in school, they might have been less out of touch, and their characters would have had enough depth to have avoided their fiasco.

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