From Joe Joplin, general manager of Rutherford EMC, in response to “Better options for power line than slicing ecological marvel,” (March 13 Feedback by Michael Tanner):
Some things make a lot of sense when you look at the facts. Like the route for a new transmission line proposed by Rutherford Electric Membership Corporation (REMC), which a recent writer opposed.
REMC’s route is the right way to go – for engineering, environmental, cost and customer-service reasons.
The line is needed to get power to about 5,000 people in three counties – Burke, McDowell and Rutherford – in the Dysartsville area. If the line is not built, these people will not have reliable power by the winter of 2015 and could face brownouts and other service problems.
The best and least costly route runs in a nearly straight line through a very large tract of land owned by a private company, 130 of Chatham, LLC. The tract covers 5,300 acres – 8.3 square miles.
The landowner insists that the line not cross any part of his company’s property. He has refused to consider any compromise that would involve any part his property.
The line would cross less than 1 percent of his land. It would be a series of single poles with four strands of wire. It would require a cleared area only 100 feet wide, and access to that line would largely be along an existing logging road on the property.
Our engineers spent months studying possible routes. They identified the route across the 130 of Chatham property as the best one. Environmental experts studied this route and found no environmental concerns. Archeological experts determined that this route would not affect any archeological or cultural resources.
When the landowner objected to the proposed route, we identified an alternative route that is along another old logging road on the westernmost edge his property. He again said no.
He insists that REMC instead build the line along one of several alternative routes he has identified to the west that would cross other people’s properties. None of these routes is practical.
Most of them would go through a “choke point,” a steep gorge between two mountains that includes US 221 and the active CSX railway, which would make building a transmission line far more expensive and far less practical.
They would run along wetlands and the Second Broad River and therefore could have serious environmental impacts.
At least one would require displacing several families whose homes lie right along it.
Even if these routes were feasible, they would be far more expensive to build and maintain than the route across his company’s property.
No one wants a power line through their property. But everyone wants reliable and affordable electric power. We at REMC must serve all of our members, not just one landowner. This route meets that test.
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