published Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Proposal for power line near South Pittsburg, Tenn., still open for comment

To comment

The comment period on TVA's proposed power line project in South Pittsburg ends May 28. To submit comments, contact Chris Columber: Phone 800-362-4355; email newtransline@tva.com; or mail to: Chris Columber, Tennessee Valley Authority, 1101 Market St., MR 34G, Chattanooga, TN 37402-2801.

PROJECT SCHEDULE

May 28: Comment deadline

Summer 2013: Determine preferred route for field surveys

Fall 2013: Begin right of way surveys

August 2014: Begin easement purchases

February 2015: Start construction

June 2015: Project in service

Source: Tennessee Valley Authority

Plans to put a TVA high-power transmission line near South Pittsburg, Tenn., have stirred some neighbors to concern.

East Eighth Street residents Allie May Haley and Wanda Crane live near one proposed route. They're worried about the lines' potential impact on residents' health and property values.

Haley said she doesn't understand the need for the new lines because some of South Pittsburg's industrial buildings are vacant and using no power.

Tennessee Valley Authority officials say the project is intended to provide needed power for industrial expansion in Marion County and Southeast Tennessee.

Crane said she attended a public hearing last month but didn't get enough information to know whether she should be concerned. The public hearing was April 25; TVA will be accepting public comment through May 28.

Crane said she plans to "keep up with what they're doing."

The planned four- to six-mile, 161-kilovolt transmission line is to be built on a single steel-pole structure centered on a 100-foot right of way. It will connect the existing Nickajack-Raccoon Mountain 161-kilovolt line to Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative's new substation, which is to be built off East 10th Street on the former National Guard Armory property, spokesman Michael Bradley said.

TVA contends electrical and magnetic fields created by transmission lines pose no health risks, according to environmental studies done in 2007 for a similar project in Rutherford and Williamson counties.

Experts have not been able "to form a testable concept of how these low-frequency, low-energy power fields could cause health effects in the human body where natural processes produce much higher fields," the study states. "To date, there is no agreement in the scientific or medical research communities as to what, if any, electric or magnetic field parameters might be associated with a potential health effect in a human or animal."

Terry Case, executive director of the South Pittsburg Housing Authority, said he plans to monitor the project's development near one of the public complexes in the proposed project area.

"We don't want them to do anything that would have any negative impact on our residents," Case said.

Shannon Wingfield, whose boyfriend's family lives in the South Pittsburg Public Housing Authority's 82-unit Keown Homes off Eighth Street, said she hadn't heard about the project.

"I don't really know if I should be concerned or not," Wingfield said with one eye cocked toward a small soccer field next to the apartment that lies in one of the proposed routes. She said she plans to learn more about TVA's plans.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at 423-757-6569 or bbenton@timesfreepress.com.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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