Union Power needs new line connecting Weddington, Marvin

WEDDINGTON – Union Power Cooperative is looking for public input on what the company said is a much-needed transmission line between Weddington and Marvin.

Officials say the line, like those that run along streets on power poles, would be a vital addition for Union Power as the company works to ensure current infrastructure isn’t overtaxed by the surge in population that’s occurred over the last decade. The question now is where the line will go, and what problems, if any, area residents will have with where the aboveground power line is strung.

“A lot of times when we have workshops like this, people will point out something that’s not on a map” like an unmarked cemetery or historic landmark, Union Power manager of communications Carrie Stroud said. The residents “know the area better than we do.”

The company has mailed flyers and information on the public meeting and project to roughly 2,000 property owners between the Marvin and Weddington substations, Stroud said, as well as completed land surveys to pinpoint where occupied buildings, natural resources and different landmarks fall along any possible power line route. The proposed study area includes the neighborhoods of Lake Forest Preserve, Meadows at Weddington, Shaver Farms, Stratford on Providence and Weddington Heritage.

Weddington Mayor Walker Davidson said on Tuesday, April 16, that he and Marvin leaders have been working with the power company on future plans for the area. Davidson said Weddington officials plan to play a role in the final decision on the location of the power line. What discussions have taken place up to this point wasn’t made clear, and Stroud said she wasn’t aware of what feedback towns have given on the power line’s route.

Davidson said, during revisions for Weddington’s recently approved land-use plan, town leaders made text changes to the plan to better accommodate Union Power and work they may do in
town.

Regardless of exactly where the line goes, Union Power leaders say it’s a project that must happen at some point soon. The demand for electricity in central and western Union County has increased more than 30 percent since 2004, and with only one 100,000-volt transmission line serving the area, a problem with the line could cause simultaneous power outages at all five power substations in the area.

“Steps must be taken in the near future that will prevent the existing … line from becoming overloaded while providing a second source of … energy to each of the five substations,” reads a letter signed by Tom Slusher, vice president of engineering and construction for Union Power. “The second … energy source will virtually eliminate the possibility that electrical service at all five substations could happen simultaneously, thus significantly reducing the potential for wide-spread power outages in central and western Union County.”

In the letter, Union Power officials say they want the new line to “minimize effects to environment, cultural, aesthetic and land-use resources,” thus the public hearing and discussions with towns. Stroud, the Union Power representative, said the company is aware this will be an ongoing conversation and  other public meetings will be held before the project moves forward.

The first workshop is scheduled for May 7 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Weddington United Methodist Church, 13901 Providence Road, in Weddington. Along with being sent information on the meeting, the roughly 2,000 property owners contacted by Union Power also received a questionnaire asking them about their concerns regarding the line and its possible proximity to their homes, schools and other landmarks.

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