Whitfield County commissioners didn’t like what they saw on a map showing potential routes of a new power line planned by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Two of those routes cut across the Carbondale Business Park on the south end of the county.
“We’ve spent a lot of money making that attractive and modern, landscaping it, burying our own utilities underground,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb. “It’s an industrial park, not an industrial site. And now we are looking at a 150-foot right of way cutting though it.”
TVA wants to build 20 miles of 115-kilovolt power line to connect the Swamp Creek substation just south of Dalton to the Fuller substation just south of Calhoun. About one quarter of that line would be in Whitfield County, and TVA held an open house on the project Thursday at the trade center.
“We are here to get input from the public. We have some thoughts in mind, but the people who live here know the area better than we do,” said Myra Ireland, a spokeswoman for TVA.
Babb, Commissioner Gordon Morehouse and other local officials showed up to express concern about the project’s potential impact on the industrial park. They said TVA did not know the scope of what the county has planned there.
“We are going to send them more information about the park and what we have planned there. But in the end they are TVA (a federal agency), and they can do what they want,” Babb said. “But I can assure you that we aren’t going quietly. We will fight to get a good appraisal for anything that cuts across what we own.”
Ireland said the line will provide a backup for an existing line that runs down the eastern side of Whitfield and Gordon counties linking six substations between Swamp Creek and Fuller. There are several proposed routes for the new line. All run down the western side of the two counties, running along the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest.
“Some people have asked us why we just can’t acquire right of way next to the existing line. But if a tornado or storm came through and knocked down one line it would probably knock down the other one, too, if they were next to each other,” Ireland said.
Ireland said TVA plans to pick a final route by the end of the year. Then, the route will have to be reviewed for any potential environmental issues. If there are none, construction could start in 2016 and the line would be up and operating in 2017.
Wes Hollis, a resident of Whitfield County, said he is glad to see TVA looking at another line.
“With all the storms that we’ve seen over the last couple of years, it’s just a matter of time until one of these big lines gets knocked down,” he said.
Paige Reddix says she’s not going to get upset just yet. But she said that she’s concerned the proposed line could cut through her Hill City property in Gordon County.
“They are looking at a number of different possibilities. But I have two homes, and one proposed route would cut right between my two homes. There’s also a community ball field and tennis court, and it would cut right through them, too,” she said.