Proposed construction of Duke Energy substation near Asheville school topic of forum

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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duke_energy_logo_2015Here’s a notice about an upcoming community forum to talk about the proposed construction of a Duke Energy substation near the new Dickson Elementary School in Asheville:

Dear Isaac Dickson Elementary School Community,

Please mark your calendars and plan to join a community forum to learn more about the proposed construction of a power substation between the new IDES school and the Randolph school building.

Duke Energy is planning to build a large, high-voltage substation that will be 280 ft. by 180 ft. large and up to 80 feet tall between Isaac Dickson and Randolph School.

The forum is Sunday, May 31 from 7-8pm at Isaac Dickson – 90 Montford Avenue. Mayor Esther Manheimer, Senator Terry Van Duyn and other elected officials and community leaders will be at the forum to discuss concerns and solutions to this situation.

We need your participation to stand up and say that putting a substation next to an elementary school is a bad idea for our community!

Please join us for the forum and bring a friend or two. Asheville can do better than this for our children and our community!

Why should our community care?

No regulation of substation construction in our City ordinances
The City of Asheville has no zoning ordinances to guide and restrict the development of power substations in our community. This means that Duke can build a substation anywhere – next to our school, your home, or your neighborhood park. Let’s come together to address this problem.

Health and safety risks for students, teachers and staff
In May 2015 a Duke substation in Candor, N.C., exploded resulting in a raging fire. Research about the effects on children of exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by substations is inconclusive and some valid studies show increased risk of cancers. There is also a possibility of electrocution from this high-voltage structure. A Florida child was electrocuted at a power substation just last fall.

Jeopardizing the success of this top-achieving school
Parents, teachers and administrators have invested a great deal over many years to make this one of the top-achieving schools in the state and an incredible resource for our community. A substation next door could seriously jeopardize Isaac Dickson’s success.

Threatening tax payers’ $23 million investment in our new LEED-certified school
Buncombe County invested $23 million to build the new Dickson school. Having an industrial-type development (substation) next to the school will diminish our investment.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Michael May 26, 2015

    EMF risk is a function of distance and any buffer elements between. EMF studies are based on a specific distance tested, and the studies are few, and inconclusive. So until Duke says where the substation is on the site, all we can do is guess about EMF levels at the school.
    The 80′ ht is the the tallest post where the service lines bring in the service, dropping it down into the substation. BTW, there are high transmission lines coming up Hill St in front of the school, on the way to downtown and N Asheville, which is why this site was chosen.
    I would think that ACS and Duke could work on an appropriate fence and warning signs along the shared property line to keep kids away, as well as vegetative or berm buffers.
    With a 16 ac site holding a 1 ac substation, it is possible that cooperation could yield community benefits, such as greenways, gardens, bee communities, etc., that outweigh nebulous risks.

  2. Amy C May 23, 2015

    “Several early epidemiologic studies raised the possibility of an association between certain cancers, especially childhood cancers, and ELF-EMFs. Most subsequent studies have not shown such an association, but scientists have continued to investigate the possibility that one exists.” ( These are the words of the National Cancer Institute with regard to living close to large power lines. If the scientific community is still asking these question, then parents probably should be, too.

    What we do know for sure is that there are risks of power plant explosions and electrocution. The family of the the Florida teen that was electrocuted by a power plant in Miami last year is now suing. The power plant is located next to a community center and the kid was killed instantly when he jumped the fence to retrieve his basketball.

    The above Ashvegas post also mentions the Duke substation that exploded in Candor, NC last month. What it doesn’t mention is how difficult it is to put one of these fires out. It requires specially trained fire fighters that know how to deal with explosions, oil ignition and high-voltage electrical arcs.

    Yes, we need power stations but lets put them in a better location. Not next to homes, and definitely not next to where hundreds of young children will be learning and playing all day long.

  3. Rich May 23, 2015

    Personally, I’m more concerned about the dozens of deaths that have occurred around the country when kids have climbed fences around substations. There have been deaths from substation explosions as well.

  4. Chris D. May 21, 2015

    “Research about the effects on children of exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by substations is inconclusive and some valid studies show increased risk of cancers.”

    Say what!?! There is absolutely no credible research that even begins to validate the idea that EMF has any effect on anyone.

    I’m not saying they should build the substation there or not, but the EMF argument is just irresponsible fear-mongering. I’ll believe parents are actually worried about EMF exposure when I see them take their kids cell phones and iPads away.


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