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Landowners share power line concerns

About 150 landowners and concerned residents met in Harper Thursday to discuss possible construction of a private electric transmission line through Gillespie County. "We basically wanted to get together and pool our information," Martha Stevens, who helped organize the meeting, said. "We live in an awfully pretty part of Texas, and there are important questions we need to ask." Landowners are concerned, Ms. Stevens said, that construction of power lines will diminish property values and harm the Hill Country's appeal to tourists.

About 150 landowners and concerned residents met in Harper Thursday to discuss possible construction of a private electric transmission line through Gillespie County.

"We basically wanted to get together and pool our information," Martha Stevens, who helped organize the meeting, said. "We live in an awfully pretty part of Texas, and there are important questions we need to ask."

Landowners are concerned, Ms. Stevens said, that construction of power lines will diminish property values and harm the Hill Country's appeal to tourists.

Thursday's meeting, held at St. Anthony Catholic Church, was organized after Hilliard Energy, a Midland-based company, began contacting local landowners in late-July about granting 180-foot land easements to the company.

Hilliard sent two leasing agents to the meeting, though the agents declined to answer questions publicly. Written questions were collected.

Hilliard is working for Florida Power and Light Energy (FPL), a company based in Palm Beach County, FL, to secure the land for the possible construction of an electric transmission line.

A spokesperson for Hilliard Energy did not return calls by Wednesday morning.

However, FPL spokesman... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

About 150 landowners and concerned residents met in Harper Thursday to discuss possible construction of a private electric transmission line through Gillespie County.

"We basically wanted to get together and pool our information," Martha Stevens, who helped organize the meeting, said. "We live in an awfully pretty part of Texas, and there are important questions we need to ask."

Landowners are concerned, Ms. Stevens said, that construction of power lines will diminish property values and harm the Hill Country's appeal to tourists.

Thursday's meeting, held at St. Anthony Catholic Church, was organized after Hilliard Energy, a Midland-based company, began contacting local landowners in late-July about granting 180-foot land easements to the company.

Hilliard sent two leasing agents to the meeting, though the agents declined to answer questions publicly. Written questions were collected.

Hilliard is working for Florida Power and Light Energy (FPL), a company based in Palm Beach County, FL, to secure the land for the possible construction of an electric transmission line.

A spokesperson for Hilliard Energy did not return calls by Wednesday morning.

However, FPL spokesman Steve Stengal said his company has no specific plans to build a private line but is hoping to build part of a transmission line mandated by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

"We are securing land so that, when decisions are made by the PUC, we will have options," Stengal said. "We have talked to landowners about land in the area, but we don't know where exactly the transmission lines will be built."

Specific plotting of locations for the PUC line might not be completed until 2009, but a general plan called "Scenario #2" was approved July 17 by the PUC and has the line coming through southwestern Gillespie County.

PUC spokesman Terry Hadley said he had not heard of plans for a second transmission line, though he said companies often talk to landowners before state contracts are awarded.

"There are a lot of terrain issues, property issues, cost issues," Hadley said. "At this point, no one would know the specific routing, but perhaps specific companies would know a general idea of their path."

Landowners contacted by Hilliard own property well north of the tentative PUC line.

Lone Star Transmission, LLC, a subsidiary of FPL, is among four service providers hoping to build part of the state-mandated line, which also is a concern for local property owners, Ms. Stevens said.

Other interested companies include the Lower Colorado River Authority, CPS Energy in San Antonio and Trans-Elect Texas, LLC.

Hadley said specific plotting will be mostly up to the company the PUC chooses. And although "Scenario #2" has been selected as a construction plan out of four options by the PUC, Hadley said the transmission line might not necessarily cross Gillespie County.

The main point, he said, is to get electricity from wind farms near McCamey in Upton County to San Antonio.

Companies interested in building the line must submit binding proposals to the PUC by Sept. 12, effectively tossing their hats in the ring, Hadley said.

The line, which the state hopes to have completed by 2013, will be a double circuit 345-kilovolt line, the largest lines currently used in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid, which regulates 85 percent of electricity in Texas.

The project will cost approximately $4.9 billion and will allow 18,456 megawatts of electricity to be transported from West Texas.

The PUC hopes to have a utility company chosen by January, Hadley said, with construction to begin as early as 2011.

Locally, a citizen steering committee comprised of landowners and Gillespie County community leaders met yesterday at the Harper Library to arrange a meeting with the PUC in September. Ms. Stevens said the group hopes the PUC can provide them with more specific information on construction projects.

A second community meeting has been tentatively set for 7 p.m. Sept. 18 in the Parish Hall at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Harper.


Source: http://www.fredericksburgst...

AUG 27 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/16796-landowners-share-power-line-concerns
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