SWEPCO cancels controversial Northwest Arkansas power line project

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 122 views 

Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) served notice that it will no longer pursue a $116 million, 345 kilovolt (kV) electric transmission project in Northwest Arkansas due to a lack of need.

Southwest Power Pool (SPP), a regional transmission operator, conducted a study that shows the proposed project is not needed due to updated forecasts indicating lower electric demand in the region than previously projected.

“As a transmission owning member of SPP, SWEPCO’s role is to obtain regulatory approval and to construct electric transmission facilities as directed by SPP. SPP determines the need for projects based on studies containing future load growth and other transmission system usage projections,” said Venita McCellon-Allen, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer.

“Based on SPP’s new findings, we are notifying landowners, community leaders and elected officials that we have withdrawn our application to the APSC for authority to construct the Shipe Road to Kings River transmission project,” she said.

The transmission project was expected to stretch across 60 miles from western Benton County to a new substation in Carroll County, Ark. The project was scheduled to be in service in June 2016.

Public pressure played a role in a rehearing request at the PSC. Earlier this year, the state’s utility regulatory requested that SPP conduct a new study on the need for the transmission project after nearly 6,000 public comments were received.

The SPP study yielded different results than previous analyses due to a reduction in forecasted load and a reduction in long-term transmission service transactions by SPP’s transmission customers since the time of the last evaluation in 2008.

SWEPCO serves more than 524,000 customers in western Arkansas, northwest and central Louisiana, northeast Texas and the Texas Panhandle.

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