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Power line foes to have a say

Victory may be a long shot, but Earl Hendrix is geared up for the fight. For more than eight months, Hendrix, a 76-year-old Hoke County farmer, has been protesting Progress Energy's 230-kilovolt power line expected to run through 21 miles of private land in the county. The route, which begins in Richmond County and travels through Scotland and Hoke to end in Cumberland County, will affect 77 property owners in Hoke County and 29 in Cumberland County. To Progress Energy, the line is a much-needed solution to the state's growing energy needs fueled by a rapidly increasing population and an upswing in electricity usage. But to Hendrix and other landowners in the county, it's a threat to Hoke's financial outlook and future.

Victory may be a long shot, but Earl Hendrix is geared up for the fight.

For more than eight months, Hendrix, a 76-year-old Hoke County farmer, has been protesting Progress Energy's 230-kilovolt power line expected to run through 21 miles of private land in the county.

The route, which begins in Richmond County and travels through Scotland and Hoke to end in Cumberland County, will affect 77 property owners in Hoke County and 29 in Cumberland County.

To Progress Energy, the line is a much-needed solution to the state's growing energy needs fueled by a rapidly increasing population and an upswing in electricity usage.

But to Hendrix and other landowners in the county, it's a threat to Hoke's financial outlook and future.

On Monday night, Hendrix and others will have the chance to tell their concerns to the North Carolina Utilities Commission. The commission ultimately approves whether the line will be built or not.

The meeting, hosted by the Utilities Commission, will begin at 7 p.m. in the Commissioners Room at the Pratt Building in downtown Raeford.

The public hearing could be one of the final steps in the power line debate.

On Aug. 21, the Utilities Commission will hold an... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Victory may be a long shot, but Earl Hendrix is geared up for the fight.

For more than eight months, Hendrix, a 76-year-old Hoke County farmer, has been protesting Progress Energy's 230-kilovolt power line expected to run through 21 miles of private land in the county.

The route, which begins in Richmond County and travels through Scotland and Hoke to end in Cumberland County, will affect 77 property owners in Hoke County and 29 in Cumberland County.

To Progress Energy, the line is a much-needed solution to the state's growing energy needs fueled by a rapidly increasing population and an upswing in electricity usage.

But to Hendrix and other landowners in the county, it's a threat to Hoke's financial outlook and future.

On Monday night, Hendrix and others will have the chance to tell their concerns to the North Carolina Utilities Commission. The commission ultimately approves whether the line will be built or not.

The meeting, hosted by the Utilities Commission, will begin at 7 p.m. in the Commissioners Room at the Pratt Building in downtown Raeford.

The public hearing could be one of the final steps in the power line debate.

On Aug. 21, the Utilities Commission will hold an evidentiary hearing, where Progress Energy will plead its case.

After that, the Utilities Commission could either approve the request or offer suggestions to the power company.

Hendrix, a Hoke County native, owns about 3,000 acres of land in the county. He figures about two miles of that will be affected if the proposed route is approved by the state.

Hendrix said the power company has asked to buy a 200-foot-wide easement on his land that would run through many acres of his land.

Mike Hughes, a spokesman for Progress Energy, said the company is currently negotiating the easements with individual property owners. In most cases, Hughes said, the utility will offer a one-time payment to the landowners for use of the land.

The land will not be purchased, however, and the power company will set some restrictions on the use of the land. For instance, trees can't be grown directly under the line. And if a property owner refuses to sell, the land could be condemned and handed over to the company for the public good.

It's a bad deal, according to Hendrix, who believes this type of progress is not the right kind for the growing county that has been struggling to pay for new schools and infrastructure.

Hendrix thinks the power line will devalue the land. And because property taxes are the primary source of income for the county, this could only hurt its revenue, he said.

"It affects everyone in the county," he said.

"If they put that thing across that 100 acres of land, you can't sell it," he said. "They want an easement forever. You tell me how long forever is?"

Hughes said the company has tried to find a route that affects the least people possible and has the smallest environmental impact. He said it hasn't been easy.

Since January, Hoke landowners have bound together for the fight, with Hendrix mostly leading the way.

Horse farm owners in the northwestern part of the county joined forces with farmers and homeowners.

They raised about $40,000 to hire a lawyer out of Raleigh, Hendrix said.

And while they don't know if they'll win, a fighting chance is all they're asking for, Hendrix said.

"The whole thing I hope we can accomplish Monday night is to bring a lot of people out," he said. "They have no concern for us. It's just not right to come in and steal this land forever."


Source: http://www.tradingmarkets.c...

AUG 10 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/16535-power-line-foes-to-have-a-say
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