Travelers Rest joins Duke transmission line opponents

TRAVELERS REST, S.C. — The city of Travelers Rest has joined the growing number of opponents of a proposed 45-mile Duke Energy transmission line that would cut through the mountains and foothills of the Carolinas.

According to Duke officials, the more than 200 towers with an average height of around 140' are needed to meet the increasing demand for power in western North Carolina.

In a recent letter to Duke Energy president and CEO Lynn Good, Travelers Rest Mayor Wayne McCall said he was disappointed and concerned with Duke's proposed "Option #4," a route that would take the transmission lines along Scenic Hwy. 11 and across Hwy. 25 before claiming a path through the mountains en route to our northern neighbor.

"In my view, this project will cause irreparable damage to the unique environment that it would traverse," wrote McCall. "Northern Greenville County and the people who reside here will suffer negative environmental and economic impact forever."

The proposed, 150'-wide routes include large portions of northern Greenville County, northern Spartanburg County, southern Polk County (N.C.) and Henderson County (N.C.). Although some of the proposed routes make use of existing Duke transmission lines, others would require the acquisition of new rights of way through forested areas, in or near the watershed, and/or adjacent to homes, farms, and orchards.

In his letter to Duke, McCall said that the city's future growth "is dependent upon the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge escarpment and residential development that will be dependent upon our many businesses and services."

"This is simply a bad choice that would ruin the environment, diminish property values, reduces the tax base, and make these areas a less attractive place to live and enjoy," McCall concluded.

Duke officials recently announced they will speed up the proposed route location announcement date, moving it from January 2016 to October 2015.

Although Duke's public comment period ended Aug. 31., proposed routes can be seen here.

An online petition by Greenville-based conservation group Upstate Forever to do away with the proposed transmission line garnered nearly 2,000 signatures before the comment deadline, and signatures are still being collected. (The petition can be found here.)

In a recent OpEd in the Greenville Business Journal, the group's executive director, Brad Wyche, wrote that the area’s economic well-being is inextricably tied to its stunning natural beauty and abundant green spaces.

"[We] are honored to protect several properties in the area with conservation agreements, but unfortunately these agreements cannot legally stop a utility from condemning rights-of-way for transmission lines," Wyche wrote.

(Related: Proposed Duke transmission line sparks controversy)

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