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TMCNet:  Cedarville Landowners View Power Line Maps

[January 11, 2013]

Cedarville Landowners View Power Line Maps

CEDARVILLE, Jan 11, 2013 (Times Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- More than 100 landowners converged on Cedarville City Hall on Thursday night to view a proposal for a 750-mile electric line that would go through their community and to talk with representatives of the Clean Line Energy Partners, the company developing the line.

The project, called the Plains & Eastern Clean Line, entails building an overhead high-voltage, direct-current transmission line that would carry wind-generated electricity across Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee. The line would deliver some 3,500 megawatts, enough energy to power the equivalent of 1 million homes.

Mario Hurtado, executive vice president of Clean Line Energy Partners, said his company has been working on the project for three years and is in the planning and permitting stages.

Thursday night's open house was one of many scheduled along the entire proposed path. With Hurtado and about 10 other Clean Line reps on hand to answer questions, visitors viewed posters on easels set up around the meeting room and pored over maps on tabletops. One long map showed the 750-mile stretch, and several satellite maps showed the proposed path through Cedarville.

DeWite DeShazo, whose farmland is in the path, said safety was an underlying concern, but he also spoke favorably about other aspects of the plan.

"It's bound to have an economic impact at some point," he said.

According to Clean Line's literature, the project will create more than 5,000 construction jobs and more than 500 operations jobs. Hurtado pointed out posters illustrating how Arkansas businesses will benefit, including Malvern-based General Cable, which would manufacture the transmission line, and Little Rock-based LM, which would make the windmill blades.

Clean Line hosted a similar meeting in November in Van Buren, but it was sparsely attended and many Cedarville landowners missed it. Hurtado said the company hosted Thursday's open house at Mayor Glenanna O'Mara's request.

O'Mara said the information was good, and she requested the meeting to make sure her community knew about the project.

"The company was good to come here and do a meeting," she said. "I still regret that we didn't get to that first meeting." Hurtado said people are generally curious about wind energy, and they often question why Clean Lines is building overhead lines instead of underground.

"It's technically feasible at a lower voltage to go underground, but not at the level we're trying to do," he said.

While Clean Line logged plenty of feedback, Hurtado strongly recommended people communicate with the Department of Energy, which is preparing an environmental impact statement for the project.

In connection with the environmental study, the DOE has scheduled a number of public scoping meetings to provide information and collect input. Feedback can be submitted online, by mail or in person at the meetings.

The next DOE scoping meeting near Cedarville will be Feb. 11 at the Van Buren Public Library. The open house will be 5-8 p.m., with a presentation from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Although all landowners within a mile on either side of the proposed path were supposed to be notified of the scoping meetings by the DOE, not everyone got the mailers.

Robin Cameron of Uniontown said he didn't receive a DOE notice, nor did his brother or father. All of them own land in the path.

"We didn't know about the meeting in Van Buren until after," Cameron said, referring to the Clean Line-hosted meeting in November. He found out about Thursday's meeting with Clean Line that morning in the Times Record.

Donald Keller of the Alma area said he would like to see the path moved away from populated areas.

"It's would be less costly to follow the river along the bottom lands, or in the mountains where it's less populated," he said.

O'Mara said she would suggest the national forest north of Cedarville, where there is an existing swath for electric lines.

___ (c)2013 Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.) Visit Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.) at www.swtimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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