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Hampshire commissioners asked to reverse opposition to power line

Apparently hoping that a proposed agreement between the staff of the West Virginia Public Service Commission and Allegheny Energy would put a better face on the utility's proposed Trans-Allegheny Interstate Power Line project, the Hampshire County Commission received an e-mail request to reverse its opposition to the project. Commissioners Don Cookman, Steve Slonaker and Robert Hott, however, all agreed that would not happen.

Apparently hoping that a proposed agreement between the staff of the West Virginia Public Service Commission and Allegheny Energy would put a better face on the utility's proposed Trans-Allegheny Interstate Power Line project, the Hampshire County Commission received an e-mail request to reverse its opposition to the project.

Commissioners Don Cookman, Steve Slonaker and Robert Hott, however, all agreed that would not happen.

On hand for discussion of the request were several residents and members of the Capon Valley Coalition opposed to the 500-kilowatt power line that Allegheny Energy has said is necessary to prevent blackouts and other electric transmission failures in the future.

The proposed agreement calls for West Virginia electric customers to be shielded from project-related costs for seven years and provides funding for conservation and low-income energy assistance programs.

It also calls for 100 to 150 managerial, professional, technical and administrative jobs in north-central West Virginia no later than the in-service date of the project, expected to occur in 2011.

Grady Bradfield and Bill Goleman opened the discussion with the commissioners by noting that the agreement doesn't... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Apparently hoping that a proposed agreement between the staff of the West Virginia Public Service Commission and Allegheny Energy would put a better face on the utility's proposed Trans-Allegheny Interstate Power Line project, the Hampshire County Commission received an e-mail request to reverse its opposition to the project.

Commissioners Don Cookman, Steve Slonaker and Robert Hott, however, all agreed that would not happen.

On hand for discussion of the request were several residents and members of the Capon Valley Coalition opposed to the 500-kilowatt power line that Allegheny Energy has said is necessary to prevent blackouts and other electric transmission failures in the future.

The proposed agreement calls for West Virginia electric customers to be shielded from project-related costs for seven years and provides funding for conservation and low-income energy assistance programs.

It also calls for 100 to 150 managerial, professional, technical and administrative jobs in north-central West Virginia no later than the in-service date of the project, expected to occur in 2011.

Grady Bradfield and Bill Goleman opened the discussion with the commissioners by noting that the agreement doesn't change anything for the landowners whose property will be devalued.

"It's just a reshuffling of money," said Goleman, who pointed out that deferring rate increases won't help because it's already been demonstrated in Maryland that the utility more than made up for what wasn't collected when a cap went off rates there.

He said the Hampshire County resolution to oppose the project has been a model for other counties in the state that have also gone on record opposing the project.

"We urge you to stick with the resolution," he said.

Bradfield said the county has been hit three times with mega watt power line proposals.

"The first came to President Kennedy's property in Virginia and just died," he said. "Then they came back again and told us we had no choice, we could go to court or settle."

That power line was built.

"This time is different," he said. "We have new people here who are standing up for their rights."

Slonaker also pointed out that the project is not just for construction of one power line but opens the region to add up to five power lines in the future.

Bradfield said he is especially disappointed in the state of West Virginia, noting that Virginia has gone on record being opposed to the project, as has Pennsylvania.

"And Virginia is one of the states that is to benefit from the project," Slonaker added.

"Our economy is different and the state needs to look more at our needs," Bradfield said. "The state is not looking after residents' interests."

He said he doesn't see any reason why power plants can't be built closer to the electricity demand and the state would benefit by shipping its coal to the plants.

"The land is lost once the power line goes through," he said. "It's gone forever."

Slonaker said the first power line came through his family's property 44 years ago and his father received $60 an acre for the right of way.

He said the property has lost value because of the line that travels a mile through it. "The farm is appraised at $200,000 less today because of the line," he said.

"We have not profited from its existence but the utility certainly has," he said.

Slonaker said he doesn't see why West Virginia landowners should sacrifice so others can profit.

"There needs to be just compensation," he said, adding that at the very least there needs to be a periodic review.

Bradfield said, "It's a legalized monopoly" and the utility is guaranteed a profit.

Goleman added that in addition, the landowner must continue to pay taxes on property that has restricted uses because of the power line.

Slonaker said a power company representative recently told him the lines across his land are sagging and they need more height.

"But they aren't going to raise the lines, they want to cut off the top of the hills to get them higher," he said.

Slonaker said he objected to the approach and now he is waiting to see what happens because the utility reminded him they have the right to maintain the lines as they see fit.

Goleman said despite the opposition, Allegheny Energy "is just pressing on as if West Virginia is going to roll over and play dead."

Also present for the discussion were Rob and Tammy Cole and Clyde DeWitt.

DeWitt said his subdivision is located on land that formerly belonged to Westvaco and was then unimproved forest land. He said the utility has apparently used those old maps to plot the power line despite the fact that it is now a subdivision and private property.

He said surveyors for the utility have been seen on the property and have refused to leave when told it was private.

Goleman said that Bradfield had it right when he said the utility considers West Virginia "a giant extension cord" to provide electricity to the East.


Source: http://www.times-news.com/l...

MAY 7 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/14856-hampshire-commissioners-asked-to-reverse-opposition-to-power-line
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