AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF)- The message of “Saving Old Dibble” is still there.
But after a meeting at USC Aiken’s Etherredge Center last Tuesday, Aiken Electric Cooperative and Central Electric have paused the project.
Hundreds of residents from several neighborhoods were in attendance, wanting to voice growing concerns about the potential installation of a 115-kilovolt transmission line.
In addition to them, Senator Tom Young and S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor also showed up to the meeting.
Neighbors that were there say that lots of questions were asked of the company involved–Central Electric Power Cooperative–but according to residents, the representative didn’t have a lot of answers.
“A lot of things emerged from that meeting. It emerged that their plans were based on faulty information. False maps from 2019 on faulty financial assumptions,” said Simmie Moore, who lives off Old Dibble Road.
Plans called for this transmission line to be routed through neighborhoods–which caused a ruckus for these neighbors.
Aiken Electric CEO Gary Stooksbury says this line would provide better transmission service to substations in the area–and would protect close to 12,000 people from losing power.
“We’ve got two substations that are on a radial,” said Stooksbury. “Which means if that transmission service goes down, we’ve got 4700 meters–about 12,000 people–that will be out of power for however long it takes to get that transmission system back up.”
“So in a natural disaster, or tornado, they could be out for weeks. This is the last transmission line that we need to literally loop feed all of Aiken Co Op’s substations.”
But after hearing public concern, Stooksbury says taking a step back is the best way to for Aiken Co-Op, and Central Electric Power Cooperative.
“They need to make sure they have looked at all available options, and have good reasons for why this line needs to go where it ultimately will go,” said Stooksbury.
“So, we’re not as concerned that it needs to be done tomorrow. We’re more interested in it needs to be done, and done right.”
“This is the first victory, but it’s not the end,” said Moore. “We need to remain vigilant. The legislators–we applaud and thank them for their very incisive questioning, but they have to hold Central Electric to a strict account. Anything they do is not only going to affect all the communities on that plan, but the whole of Aiken County.”
Moore also says she hopes the course of action will not only be a victory for those in the area, but for the companies involved as well.
According to Stooksbury, the next step is for the Central Electric Power Cooperative to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate to select the best route for everyone involved.
There isn’t a timeline on when that will take place.