TERRE HAUTE —
Duke Energy has announced the final route for a new high-voltage power line in western Vigo County.
A letter went out Friday to affected property owners, said Lew Middleton, Duke Energy communications consultant.
The new power line will generally run north from the Dresser substation along existing Duke Energy right-of-way to Gannon Road. It will continue north, crossing Concannon Avenue and Thralls Avenue. North of Thralls Avenue, the route turns east toward Wabash River Station. The route is about 11 miles in length.
Construction of the new power line is expected to begin in the second half of 2015. The line should be in service by summer 2016.
“We considered a great deal of input from a lot of different sources,” Middleton said. Duke used an outside consulting firm that specializes in siting such projects.
The company took into account proximity to homes, schools, churches and businesses as well as environmental, cultural and historical factors, he said.
“We believe the route choice we’ve made is the best overall choice for the community, environment and the project,” Middleton said.
The power line will connect the Dresser substation on Darwin Road to the company’s Wabash River Generating Station in West Terre Haute and will provide additional power capacity to customers in western Indiana, the company says.
It will help replace the power that will not be available when four of the generating units at Wabash River Station are retired.
It also will improve reliability by offering an alternate route for power in the event other power lines suffer damage or require routine maintenance, the company says.
On March 24, Duke conducted an open house and invited more than 700 people; about 200 showed up, Middleton said. At that time, it presented three proposed routes.
Monday’s announcement of the final route left some relieved, but others unhappy.
Marcia “Skitz” Evrard, who lives in the 4000 block of West Sandford Road, said the power line route will impact property that has been in her family since 1843; the property is located between Regan Road and Thralls Avenue.
The power line would make a sharp turn on the family property and proceed east to the Wabash generating station.
Describing herself as an environmentalist, Evrard believes the new route and related easements “will devalue my property more than they could ever pay me for.” Also, it limits what owners can do with the affected property.
She also believes it will be harmful to wildlife habitat in the area and hopes the company can help her develop other habitat.
Larry King, who lives on Lower Sandford Road, expects the new power line route will affect the family’s property in that area. He is concerned about health implications associated with a high-voltage line.
“I know there’s nothing you can do about it,” he said. “I don’t understand why they can’t get it away from people’s homes.”
He submitted his comments online to Duke Energy. The new power line route will limit the use of that property, King said. Duke does have an existing easement in that area.
Charles Ray, who lives on Darwin Road and would have been affected by one of the three initial proposed routes, was relieved that the final one chosen is farther west.
“It would have gone across my farm,” he said.
During late summer or early fall 2014, Duke Energy land acquisition agents will start contacting affected property owners to discuss the need for land surveys and any additional easements. When those contacts are made, the agents will describe the process for acquiring land rights and answer any questions the property owners may have.
As a public utility, Duke Energy does have eminent domain authority, but “we don’t want to use it except as a last resort,” Middleton said.
The easement corridor will be 100 feet wide, with some parts that may be wider, Middleton said. He did not immediately know the number of affected property owners or the number of easements that will be needed.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.