VILONIA — A public meeting was held Tuesday night at the Vilonia City Hall, where the focus centered on dealing with anticipated area growth and the electricity that will be needed to support it.
"It’s all about growth and reliable electric service," explained James Thompson, an Entergy Arkansas spokesman who was present for the Open House, where attendees could pick up maps and informational pamphlets concerning the proposed project.
The electric company, Thompson explained, is planning to build a new transmission line between Cabot in Lonoke County and the existing Hamlet Switching Station located east and northeast of Conway in Faulkner County. The new transmission line will also serve a new proposed distribution substation to be constructed near Vilonia.
The company, Thompson said, has identified several potential transmission line routes for the new proposed transmission line and substation facility. Now the next step, he said, is to solicit input from the community. Letters have been sent to landowners, he said, in the potential areas that could be affected inviting them to the event.
"We want to hear what people have to say," he said. "This is basically the first step. We know there is growth coming and we are looking ahead to keep up with the growth. Getting this (the project) done is a long drawn out process. It isn‘t anything that is going to happen tomorrow. There will be more meetings and several more steps before anything is official."
Information gathered from the public, Thompson said, will be fed into a computer base and will be carefully considered before a final decision can be made concerning a location.
"We want to look at all concerns. We know there will be some who don’t want it. There will be some who just don’t want to let us have right of ways. This is the first of many meetings," he said.
According to an electric company pamphlet, the project will "ensure continued reliable electric service and voltage stability in the fast-growing areas of central Arkansas."
Currently, according to the pamphlet, "electrical loads in Vilonia are served from sources out of Conway (Hamlet Substation) through three-phase, 13.8 kV distribution circuits. Distribution circuits serving the Vilonia area are long distances (7 miles) from the source substation, which causes low-voltage problems under certain circumstances and during peak loading conditions. Distribution electrical loads in the Vilonia area have increased to the point that a new substation to serve these loads is now required."
The new 161/13.8 kV substation, Thompson said, in the Vilonia area in conjunction with the proposed new 20-mile 161 kV transmission line from Hamlet to Cabot (Holland Bottoms Substation) should improve service reliability and provide for long-term growth in Vilonia and east Faulkner County.