Lawmakers introduce bill opposing power line plan

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — A power company would be blocked from building a 340,000-volt transmission line through two Missouri counties under a bill introduced in the House.

The Joplin Globe reported that southwest Missouri lawmakers introduced the bill Wednesday in the House. Twelve days earlier, an Arkansas judge gave the green light to Southwestern Electric Power Co., a subsidiary of American Electric Power, to build the line along Route 109.

Spanning 25 miles in southwestern Missouri and 31 in northwestern Arkansas, Route 109 begins in Benton County, Ark., and goes north to cross the southern reaches of McDonald and Barry counties in Missouri. It then turns south to reach its endpoint near Berryville in Carroll County, Ark.

The route selected was among six possibilities identified last year by the Arkansas-based SWEPCO. The company’s spokesman, Peter Main, said the Southwest Power Pool, of which SWEPCO is a part, mandated the utility build a line from Benton County through Carroll County by June 2016 to improve reliability to Arkansas customers.

After the judge’s decision, Rep. Bill Lant, who is from Pineville, said that he and two other lawmakers met with members of the Missouri Public Service Commission to express their displeasure with the decision.

The bill states that “the Missouri Public Service commission shall lack jurisdiction to approve the construction of any electric facilities to be built in accordance with Arkansas Public Service Commission Order 33, Docket Number 13-041-U, authorizing Route 109 as a ‘reasonable route’ for the construction of new three hundred forty-five kilovolt electric transmission lines.”

Lant said he doesn’t know if the bill is the solution to what could impact more than 100 Missouri landowners, “but it’s certainly a start,” he said.

According to Lant, southwest Missouri lawmakers plan to meet on Monday or Tuesday and draft additional legislation pertaining to eminent domain that might have a better shot of passage.

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