Central Electric Power Cooperative had better head back to the drawing board after its plan to improve electrical service was thoroughly panned by the people it is intended to benefit. Six options were presented at the public hearing in McClellanville on Tuesday, and the consensus was that they all are bad.

That's because the transmission line, supported by giant pylons, would traverse one of the most environmentally important areas in South Carolina - the Santee Delta - for 15 to 20 miles. As Nathan Dias, executive director of the Cape Romain Bird Observatory, said at the hearing, "I can't think of a worse place to build power lines than across the Santee Delta."

Mr. Dias cited the presence of numerous endangered and threatened species within the area where the co-op wants to string its power lines.

Further, he complained that the draft environmental impact for the project fails to recognize the importance of that critical habitat.

Other speakers cited similar objections about the threat to wildlife, as well as to the numerous historic properties within the project area. Some of the objections are cited in a column from Libby Bernardin and Phil Wilkinson on today's Commentary page.

Plans have periodically surfaced over the years to upgrade electrical service in McClellanville and Awendaw, but so far have failed to pass the essential test of compatibility with the surrounding area.

Maybe co-op officials should punt this project to SCE&G, which currently serves many of the residents in the service area, to see what its planners can suggest.

There's got to be a better way to improve electrical service than building a 20-mile transmission line through one of the most environmentally pristine areas on the East Coast of the United States.

Such a bad idea shouldn't even be considered.