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Land-Owner: Power Line Has Land “Slip-Sliding” Away

December 10, 2007

Glenville, WV - A Gilmer County landowner is battling some "powerful" trouble. Wes Smith of Glenville is embroiled in a legal dispute with Allegheny Power over a line running through his property. The same company is proposing a major power transmission line for West Virginia, and Smith's view is that giving the "right-of-way" to power lines is the wrong way to go.

Smith says he's seen multiple "slips," or landslides, on the land cleared along the right-of-way since the line came through, and the company has refused to fix the problems. He is now concerned that the damage may force him to move, and warns that anyone in the path of a proposed transmission line should also be worried.

"Being the little man fighting a power company, I do believe they just try to wait you out and make you go away, hoping you'll give up."

One of the slips is located on a ridge over Smith's house. He's hoping it stays in place while he waits for a February court date. In the meantime, Duane Nichols with the state Sierra Club's energy committee says transmission lines, and the methods used to place and service them, can cause damage to the West Virginia wilderness areas as well as home sites.

"It takes more miles of access roads to service these lines than the length of the line itself."

Nichols feels transmission lines should not be a top priority in West Virginia's energy policy. Rather, he says, the first focus should be on conservation, clean energy, and combating global warming. Allegheny Power wants to construct a 200-mile power line to feed the East Coast, most of which would run through West Virginia.

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WV