Rutherford Electric Membership Corp. is planning to build a high voltage power line right through a 5,800-acre wilderness area – Box Creek Wilderness – in North Carolina (Charlotte Observer).
However, the owner of the conservation area, Tim Sweeney, says the line would run a 100-foot-wide dagger through the heart of some of the rarest plant and wildlife habitat in North Carolina. Unfortunately, based on state law, the transmission company has the right to condemn the land for power lines, but Sweeney is going to fight to save the conservation area. Sweeney’s lawyers have asked the transmission company to wait for federal agencies to evaluate the environmental impacts of the power line, or face a lawsuit. Box Creek Wilderness ranks among the top 75 of North Carolina’s 2,500 Significant Natural Heritage Areas, a designation based on its biological richness including 80 rare plant and animal species.
RETA certainly hopes Tim Sweeney has better luck convincing the state and Rutherford Electric Membership Corp. of the negative environmental impacts of this overhead high voltage line than RETA and others did trying to convince Alberta Environment, the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), AltaLink and EPCOR of the Heartland Transmission Project’s negative effects on the environment in the Sherwood Park and Edmonton Greenbelts.
The Heartland line, currently under construction by SNC-Lavalin, AltaLink and EPCOR, will run right through the Bretona Pond wetland complex, Baseline Slough, North Saskatchewan River valley, Sturgeon River valley and Mill Creek valley; and will also negatively affect Fulton Creek Marshland, Fulton Pond, Fulton Creek, and many other ponds and wetlands. 182 species of birds have been recorded in the Sherwood Park Greenbelt, where the Heartland line is being built, including 34 species of provincial and/or federal concern, ranging from “sensitive” to “threatened”. It is estimated that, because of this abundant bird life, between 8,200 and 14,100 birds may be killed annually colliding with the Heartland line conductors, shield wires and towers (towers up to 253 feet high). Two species of mammals that are of provincial concern also inhabit the Greenbelt. (For details, see these environmental data and direct evidence presented by RETA at the AUC hearing.) Unfortunately, Alberta Environment refused a request by RETA for AltaLink and EPCOR to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment of the Heartland line, and the AUC did not seriously consider the environmental evidence presented by RETA, Strathcona County and the City of Edmonton.
For information on other environmental effects of overhead high voltage power lines, see this link.