Duke Energy Begins Final Phase of Mt. Sterling Solar Project

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that Duke Energy will remove utility poles and overhead powerline along a 3.5-mile utility corridor that extends from the park boundary at Mt. Sterling Road (Hwy NC284) to the Mt. Sterling Fire Lookout Tower beginning Monday, November 19, 2018 through Friday, November 30. Work will not occur on weekends or the Thanksgiving holiday.

The overhead powerline is no longer needed due to the installation of a microgrid solar and battery facility that Duke Energy installed in 2017 to provide electrical power to park radio equipment located at the Mt. Sterling Fire Lookout Tower. This radio equipment is a vital component of the park’s emergency communication system, which serves both frontcountry and backcountry areas of the park. The overhead line has been decommissioned and the existing maintained corridor will return to a natural state.

Work crews will use chainsaws, off-road utility vehicles, and horses to remove the equipment. The area will remain open, but temporary restrictions are possible to ensure that hikers can safely pass thorough the work zone. Hikers should expect to hear noise associated with the work along the Mt. Sterling Trail and near the Mt. Sterling Fire Lookout Tower and backcountry campsite 38.

For more information about the Mt. Sterling Sustainable Energy Project, please visit the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website and following the link titled “Mt. Sterling Sustainable Energy Project” at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/grsm.

 

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