Letter writer: Duke Energy’s Foothills Project route option would pose environmental hazards

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Duke Energy’s Foothills Project will build a high-voltage transmission line from the Lake Julian power plant to a substation in Campobello, S.C. Route 17B, one of several routes being studied for the transmission line, shows a 150-foot right of way next to the creek at the end of our yard .

The transmission towers will be 140 feet tall. Trees and shrubs taller than 12 feet in the right of way will be cut and sprayed with defoliant chemicals. Some consequences of building 17B are:

• Home values will decrease. Think about seeing 140-foot towers with a 150-foot right of way out your back door? An eyesore — equally unattractive to a potential buyer. As soon as one of these lower-value properties sells, it becomes a market comparable for the sales of all future subdivision properties.

• This is to be a 230-[kilovolt] transmission line. High-voltage lines emit electromagnetic waves. EMF exposure may be a health risk to humans, small children and wildlife in the vicinity of the line. We wouldn’t let our grandchildren near the back of our yard for fear of damaging exposure to their little bodies.

• Herbicides should never be sprayed near a water source (like our creek) where rain runoff from the watershed area can seep into our creek and groundwater. Our spring-fed creek runs year-round, carrying its contents downstream, good and bad. In some areas along 17B, Duke Energy will use aerial spraying along the 150-foot right of way to defoliate plant life. Aeriel spraying is subject to herbicide drift, a risk to both plant life and wildlife habitat.

• If the 17B right of way borders the creek on our back property line as it appears to do so on Duke Energy’s 17B route, then many trees and shrubs along the creek bank will be removed. These trees and shrubs, besides being needed to control soil erosion, will severely damage the wildlife habitat that supports nesting songbirds, herons, hunting hawks, small mammals, fish, frogs, turtles and crawfish. It would be a disaster to lose this habitat.

Wouldn’t the I-26 route with its existing right of way be a better route? Couldn’t the transmission line along this route be buried? Has a definitive cost/benefit study ever been performed? Does the Foothills Project have to destroy our priceless pristine mountain view in the process?

— Barry Miller

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