New transmission lines not related to proposed windfarm

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF

   A Tennessee Valley Authority project to construct a nine-mile stretch of high-voltage lines from Elizabethton to Mountain City is being viewed by some Carter County residents as a timely coincidence -- timely in that it comes on the heels of TVA's announcement of a proposed windfarm and energy storage facility in Mountain City.
   However, according to John Moulton, TVA media relations manager, the high-voltage line has nothing to do with the proposed windfarm.
   Moulton said the 161-kilovolt line is being installed so that Mountain Electric, located in Mountain City, can upgrade its substation to that voltage. "Basically, it's to improve the reliability and to meet any kind of new growth in that area, and to upgrade their transmission system," he said.
   The line will run from a substation in Elizabethton, up over Lynn Mountain, and tie in to an existing line in Butler before making its way on toward Mountain City.
   "It's going to go to what they call the Winner tap, which is somewhere near Butler, and then another section of it -- another project -- will go from there to Pandora," Moulton said. "Eventually, it is going to connect to a substation owned by Mountain Electric."
   A line will be run later from Pandora to Shouns Substation, Moulton said.
   Shouns is one of three sites in the Mountain City area proposed for a Regenesys energy-storage facility which would store energy created by the 13 to 16 proposed windmills until needed during times of high energy demand. Buffalo Mountain, near Oliver Springs in Anderson County, also is being considered by TVA as a potential location for the proposed windfarm and Regenesys projects.
   Moulton said the high-voltage line "has nothing to do with wind turbines. ... That project has not even been decided. We wouldn't be building a power line to that at this point because it hasn't even been determined whether we're going to put anything on that site. That all is very much in the review stage right now."
   The Lynn Mountain transmission line, which is being constructed on rights of way purchased by TVA within the last two to three years, as well as rights of way previously acquired by TVA, is expected to be energized by Oct. 1.
   "Normally when we build new lines or upgrade lines, we try to use -- as much as possible -- existing right of way so that we don't have to go out and buy new property or impact new property," Moulton said.
   "We had a public meeting on this particular one a couple of years ago. We always have a meeting when we're going to lay out the route so the affected property owners can see it, and then we have alternate routes and we pick the best route."
   TVA will have to conduct a public meeting on the line from Pandora to Shouns Substation to determine impacts from the expansion, Moulton said.
   "That line will run about 10 miles between Pandora and Shouns' through Doe Valley," he said, but that project "is out there a few years."
   Once the transmission lines are run across Lynn Mountain, TVA will go back in to reseed and reclaim land impacted from construction, Moulton said.