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Overflow crowd in Landrum opposes power line

Residents at Landrum High School applaud a speaker who opposed the Duke transmission line. Residents at Landrum High School applaud a speaker who opposed the Duke transmission line.

CAMPOBELLO, S.C. — An overflow crowd of more than 800 people turned out Thursday to urge South Carolina utility regulators to deny Duke Energy’s request to build a 45-mile transmission line from Campobello to the Lake Julian power plant in Arden.


Long before the 6 p.m. start of the public hearing before the South Carolina Public Service Commission, cars filled the parking lot and homeowners streamed into the Landrum High School auditorium. Five minutes before the start, the auditorium — capacity 650 — was already full. An hour after the meeting started, 158 people hoping to get in stood outside in a line that stretched for more than 100 yards.
Homeowners in South Carolina in the proposed paths of the power line are saying the same things that landowners in North Carolina are saying — that the transmission line will devalue their property, ruin mountain views and devastate forestland — but in South Carolina the politics is far different. Four state legislators spoke strongly against the transmission line.
They said that because, according to Duke, the connector is needed mainly to deliver extra power from Duke’s Oconee nuclear plant to the fast growing Western North Carolina area, South Carolina ratepayers get nothing out of it. No member of Henderson County’s legislative delegation has come out publicly against the project.
“I have not had one single constituent out of thousands of constituents — I’ve got about 39,000 — I have not had one phone call in favor of this project,” said state Rep. Mike Burns. “Nobody has asked me to get behind this. In fact, the opposite is true. In fact, we have hundreds, you’ll get letters written to your office, even thousands of letters, bazillions of emails, phone calls. The heartburn level for this project has gone astronomical.”
“Not one person in South Carolina benefits from this project,” said State Rep. Doug Brannon, of Landrum. He said an annual report that Duke submitted to the South Carolina PSC in September 2014 did not even mention the Campobello transfer station and the transmission line to Lake Julian.
“This project,” he said, “has crushed real estate values for my constituents.”

 

Landowners and homeowners said the power line would devalue property, cut through one of the state's only mountain ranges and threaten Camp Old Indian, a Greenville County Boy Scout camp.