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STEMC proposes expansion for Chester County

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By Kara Crump
Staff Writer

Southwest Electric is planning to invest $6 million in a new electrical distribution substation for Southwest TN Electric Membership Corporation (STEMC). This project is preparing Chester County for growth as attested by Kevin Murphy, STEMC’s President, Vice President of Engineering Clint Malone, and STEMC’s Community Relations Specialist, Kenley Mitchell. The result of increased tax revenue will be approximately $60,000 to the county and approximately $30,000 to the city. The current infrastructure is standing well but at some point, will approach a capacity issue. Once a capacity issue is present, reliability issues could pose a potential threat in the future.
The decision of location came down to a great deal of electrical requirements. The new location is proposed for the southeast corner of Jacks Creek Cove. and Stewart Ave, in Henderson. Members of the community have expressed strong concern about traffic being so close to the school zone. STEMC’s original plan was to add an office and warehouse, which would in turn create traffic throughout the area with around 100 trucks per day driving through. The decision to keep both the office and warehouse at their current location in Henderson eliminates the greatest threat of traffic being posed in the proposed location. The development will take somewhere around nine months to one year for completion. Over the course of construction, an estimated 10 to 12 trucks per week would travel through. After completion, a monthly inspection occurs once per month resulting in a maximum of one to two trucks visiting the site.
One threat that surrounding residents have brought to STEMC’s concern is of radiation to the community – specifically, EMF (Electric and Magnetic Fields) from power lines. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, “EMFs are visible areas of energy, often referred to as radiation, that are associated with the use of electrical power and various forms of natural and man-made lighting.”
Regarding radiation facts and risks, EPA.gov states, “Scientific studies have not clearly shown whether exposure to EMF increases cancer risk. There is limited evidence showing an association with childhood leukemia.”
Clint Malone, Vice President of Engineering, addressed the questions by measuring EMF (Electric and Magnetic Fields) with a Magnetic Field Probe device. In front of a normal home microwave, the probe measured 150.8 milligauss (mG). In front of STEMC’s current power line site in Henderson (under the lines), the probe measured 2.88 milligauss (mG).
“This is the most economically feasible site,” Malone said. “This is the least intrusive approach to fix and correct this problem with capacity.”
He added, “In terms of safety, the requirements of substation have been met and satisfied all requirements by the company.”
STEMC plans to address the Henderson City Board of Mayor and Aldermen Thursday, June 13, requesting a “Use Permitted” amendment allowing the “Electric Substation” on appeal in R-1 residential districts, as opposed to a request to rezone.
“By making this change rather than rezoning, there is no way we could ever build an office or warehouse which completely eliminates the traffic concern,” Malone explained. “This text amendment would result in the property remaining zoned for residential but would allow for an electrical substation as a permitted use in an R-1 zone.”
STEMC President Murphy concluded, “We are concerned for capacity within the next few years. It is important for the expansion of Chester County, but it is also important for us to have the community’s support.”

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