After reversing course and confirming details of its plans for a $300 million secured facility in Georgetown, officials from TVA will meet with residents and other interested citizens from 3-7 p.m. on Thursday at the Cedar Ridge Seventh-day Adventist Church.
TVA confirmed Tuesday that the project would cost $300 million and move 175 employees out of downtown Chattanooga to Georgetown in what is said to be the largest power grid upgrade by TVA in its 85-year history. The new power control center in Georgetown is part of a new energy management system that will be supported by another $300 million TVA investment in the fiber optic lines the government agency is doing along about 3,500 miles of TVA's 16,000 miles of transmission lines.
TVA bought the property for the “secure office complex” in August 2017 in two parcels. The largest parcel was 147.2 acres purchased for $959,000 ($6,524 an acre) while the second parcel was 18 acres purchased for $175,000 ($9,722 an acre). TVA’s current power control center is now housed beneath TVA’s downtown Chattanooga office complex.
TVA said the transmission line project was scheduled to be done by 2021 with the new power control center fully operational by 2023.
TVA announced on Aug. 20 a $26 million major transmission line upgrade to 5.25 miles of transmission lines from Hopewell to Georgetown along Highway 60. The TVA release said 4.25 miles of the upgrade would be done on existing TVA right of ways along Highway 60 from Hopewell to Georgetown.
The TVA release also mentioned, with no reference to having to condemn private property, that a new right of way would be needed for the last mile to get direct power to a “new TVA secure office complex. The right of way would cut a 175-foot wide easement through virgin farmland and require the use of eminent domain to take the property.
After the announcement on Aug. 20, the property owners headed by Greg A. Vital started asking questions of TVA, but the agency offered no new additional details The property owners talked local, state and federal elected officials, who had no knowledge of the project. In addition, they raised questions on Facebook.
Citizens and property owners have questions about the long-term impact the facility will have on the Georgetown area. Property owners and concerned conservation activists wonder if TVA considered any alternate proposals than cutting through the private property. The area does not have utility infrastructure for water and sewer.
“I hope TVA will be more forthcoming,” said Mr. Vital, a resident of Georgetown and one of three property owners that will be impacted by eminent domain if TVA’s announced plan does not change. “I would love to see jobs and growth for Meigs County, but TVA has a responsibility to be transparent and, frankly, do the right thing. Secrecy and eminent domain are not the way to mask such an important project.”
TVA said that the project had been in the planning process for several years before it made its first public announcement on Aug. 20.