By Jesse Wood
April 21, 2014. In March, a Banner Elk businesswoman started a petition to “protect Banner Elk [mountain] views and ecosystem and stop and critically reevaluate” the 69,000 volt transmission line in Banner Elk that was selected in 2012.
In August 2012, Mountain Electric Cooperative announced that it had selected the 4.15-mile Route H among 12 alternatives (see map below). The transmission line includes about three miles of new right-of-way (at a width of 75 feet) and more than one mile of existing MEC transmission line right-of-way that runs between Banner Elk and Newland. It will connect a future substation in the Village of Sugar Mountain to MEC’s 69kV electrical grid near its Banner Elk substation.
This project made headlines that summer because one of the proposed routes ran through the 823-acre Lutherock Natural Heritage Area. When Kevin Parker, whose family owns a portion of the natural area, heard that the selected route bypasses Lutherock, he said, “We are happy – still not super stoked. It goes right through some of our neighbor’s land.”
Vesta Burnett created the Change.org petition.
“SMIPP [Sugar Mountain Industrial Powerline Project] will destroy this view and ecosystem,” the petition states, referring to the attached image.
Check out the entire petition here.
When the route was selected, Richard Grubb, MEC’s director of engineering and operations, said in a statement, “We are very confident that the route selected for the future 69 kV line is the one that will minimize effects to environmental, cultural, land use and scenic resources in the region.”
Parker noted that officials with MEC and Pike Energy Solutions, a Charlotte-based firm that helped in the study, deemed underground lines too expensive.
See Route H below:
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