2010-12-08 / News

New transmission line route

Property owners voice concerns at public meetings
By Anne Marie Kyzer annemariek@thetruecitizen.com

Dozens of Georgia Power representatives were on hand to discuss the new lines and the proposed route. Dozens of Georgia Power representatives were on hand to discuss the new lines and the proposed route. A steady stream of property owners filed into two public meetings to discuss the new line that will carry additional power from Plant Vogtle.

The 500 kV transmission line will carry electricity 55 miles from Plant Vogtle’s Units 3 & 4 to the Thomson Primary Substation in McDuffie County. The planned route crosses Burke County above Waynesboro and exits the western side just below Keysville before cutting through portions of Jefferson, Warren and McDuffie counties. Officials said 13 miles of the new lines will be constructed within the corridors of existing lines.

Georgia Power notified affected property owners in October and plans to begin acquiring easements on some 150 parcels along the route, 78 of which are in Burke County. The company hosted Monday’s meetings, which are required by state law, in Waynesboro to provide additional information.

Most of those who attended seem to accept the route’s presence though some asked for minor adjustments to the route on their property.

Project manager Tommy Roane said although the route is “ninety-nine percent” finalized, Georgia Power would try to accommodate property owners with “minor tweaks.”

“If we can make an adjustment without shifting it to another property, we’ll certainly try to do that,” Roane said.

But minor adjustments won’t help some larger property owners who point out that the 150-foot easement will cross right through the center of their acreage.

Andy McElmurray, a sixth generation farmer whose family owns nearly 1,000 acres of row crop land in northwest Burke County, said his plans are up in the air now.

He had already priced four center pivot irrigation systems that were to be installed by spring on the property using wells already in place. The planned transmission line cuts through three of the four areas that were to be covered by those pivots.

He said he understands it has to go somewhere but couldn’t understand why it doesn’t run through a massive pine stand just south of him.

“They could have gone through huge acreage of timberland owned by one company instead of going across smaller tracts, some being where people live,” he said.

Burke County Commission Chairman Wayne Crockett faces a similar scenario though without the irrigation concerns.

The transmission line will bisect his eastern Burke County cattle farm and family property, crossing several pastures and taking out a stand of hardwoods, but he doesn’t see much to be done about it.

“They have to put it somewhere,” he said. “That’s where they’re going to put it. I wish it didn’t have to be but it does. That’s the price of progress.”

He said it was like other services that people want provided the consequences aren’t always pleasant.

“It’s the whole NIMBY (not in my backyard) argument,” he said. “Everyone wants county dumpsters but they want them two miles away from their house on the way to town.”

Georgia Power officials said the route was determined using a number of factors such as impact to the community, environmental conditions, projected construction and maintenance costs and accessibility.

Three homeowners must be relocated but all are in McDuffie County, according to Georgia Power spokesperson Konswello Monroe.

Construction is expected to begin on the project in the summer of 2013 and the lines must be complete by 2016 to service the first of Plant Vogtle’s new units as it comes online for commercial operation.

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