Despite protest, tears and promises, 2012 was the year that Progress Energy installed a new transmission line that raised 30,000 pound power poles to tower over the historic city.
Even as the materials to create the new line were stacked at various sites and cranes set to work erecting the monstrous structures, a group of citizens fought doggedly to block Progress.
After a lawsuit filed in the circuit court failed to stop the installation failed in 2011, in
Feb. 2012, Fernandina Beach attorney Arthur “Buddy” Jacobs who historical society President Tom Daly said agreed to work for expenses, made a last ditch effort to stop the construction which was already underway.
He attempted to block an impending merger between Progress and Duke Power unsuccessfully.
Named as potential intervenors in the merger case were Richard Bickel, Dr. Helen E.A. Tudor, Tom Brocato, George Coon, Leon Bloodworth, Michael and Catherine Bailey, Robert Lindsley, Susan Buzzett Clementson, and the Apalachicola Area Historical Society.
He took his arguments to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Jacobs contended the power lines would create “immediate irreparable harm due to the permanent scarring of the historic landscape” and went on to argue that “close-up and constant exposure to this high voltage 115 kV electricity will cause them (the intervenors), their grandchildren, and others great bodily harm.”
At the end of May, the Times published an open letter to the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners and the City of Apalachicola, Board of City Commissioners from Historical Society President Tom Daly.
Daly, “respectfully requested” that a resolution be approved and sent to Vincent Dolan, president of Progress Energy Florida, Inc., for consideration to reroute a segment of their power transmission lines north of Eastpoint, Apalachicola Bay and the city of Apalachicola. This is a route they have never officially considered.”
Daly said no letter was sent and FERC blessed the Duke/Progress merger ignoring the lawsuit.
He said discussions about the poles are ongoing between Jacobs and the intervenors named in the suits.
By summer, installation of the poles was complete and the new power lines had been threaded into place by helicopter.