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Landowners Vote ‘No' To Power Line Plans

More than 100 citizens voted to oppose power line construction in northwest Gillespie County during a public meeting attended by more than 200 people Thursday evening in Harper. The meeting was the second held there in four weeks after more than 150 residents met Aug. 21 to learn more about plans by Midland-based Hilliard Energy to lease land for possible construction of a private transmission line in that part of the county. "I think there's a lot of pressure coming from Hilliard Energy," said Martha Stevens who is on a citizens committee which opposes construction. "They're not going to lease this land if they're not going to use it, I wouldn't think."

More than 100 citizens voted to oppose power line construction in northwest Gillespie County during a public meeting attended by more than 200 people Thursday evening in Harper.

The meeting was the second held there in four weeks after more than 150 residents met Aug. 21 to learn more about plans by Midland-based Hilliard Energy to lease land for possible construction of a private transmission line in that part of the county.

"I think there's a lot of pressure coming from Hilliard Energy," said Martha Stevens who is on a citizens committee which opposes construction. "They're not going to lease this land if they're not going to use it, I wouldn't think."

Hilliard Energy began contacting local landowners in July about 180-foot land easements. The company is leasing land for Florida Power and Light Energy and reportedly has told landowners that it has until Dec. 1 to do so.

Representatives from Hilliard did not confirm or deny this deadline and declined to be interviewed for this article.

FPL Energy Spokesman Steve Stengal said his company is evaluating construction options to carry wind energy from West Texas to Central Texas but currently has no plans to build private... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

More than 100 citizens voted to oppose power line construction in northwest Gillespie County during a public meeting attended by more than 200 people Thursday evening in Harper.

The meeting was the second held there in four weeks after more than 150 residents met Aug. 21 to learn more about plans by Midland-based Hilliard Energy to lease land for possible construction of a private transmission line in that part of the county.

"I think there's a lot of pressure coming from Hilliard Energy," said Martha Stevens who is on a citizens committee which opposes construction. "They're not going to lease this land if they're not going to use it, I wouldn't think."

Hilliard Energy began contacting local landowners in July about 180-foot land easements. The company is leasing land for Florida Power and Light Energy and reportedly has told landowners that it has until Dec. 1 to do so.

Representatives from Hilliard did not confirm or deny this deadline and declined to be interviewed for this article.

FPL Energy Spokesman Steve Stengal said his company is evaluating construction options to carry wind energy from West Texas to Central Texas but currently has no plans to build private transmission lines in Gillespie County.

"I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that we have made no decisions," Stengal said. "The December date is a date so we can say, ‘Here's what we're seeing in terms of interest from landowners.'"

Landowner Robert Dittmar, who gave a presentation at Thursday's meeting, said a representative from Hilliard told him that a transmission line through Gillespie County would be completed by 2010 using 80-foot wood structures.

"When they come to talk to a landowner, that is what they indicate to propose," Dittmar said.

Hilliard declined to comment on any building schedule but released a statement on transmission line construction.

"We are partnering with landowners throughout Texas to build transmission for wind-power facilities to create lower-cost electricity, cleaner air, and more jobs while at the same time, reducing dependence on fossil fuels," the statement said in part. "Hilliard Energy is committed to working with landowners to pursue all opportunities to bring more clean energy to Texas."

After speaking with representatives at Hilliard, Stengal said a 2010 deadline is arbitrary.

"I think what our land agents are trying to do is give the landowners the best possible information that we have, knowing the company has not made any final decisions," he said.

Further plans depend on the company's involvement in constructing a public transmission line that would run from West Texas through the Texas Hill Country.

Lone Star Transmission, LLC, a subsidiary of FPL Energy, is among four companies hoping to build part of that project, mandated by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

That line, which would bring electricity from wind farms near McCamey to metropolitan areas in Central Texas, could be completed by 2013 and would likely pass through part of Gillespie County.

Construction proposals from interested companies were due at the PUC by Sept. 12. Exact routing will not be completed until a company has been selected to build the line.

Stengal said FPL Energy is interested in playing a major role in that project.

The company also operates wind farms in Taylor and Nolan counties, near Abilene.

Energy from that area, Stengal said, could be brought to Central Texas using private transmission lines.

"I think the optimal word is could," he said. "I go back to the earlier point that we haven't gotten that far yet."

Thursday's meeting, held at St. Anthony Catholic Church, was attended by more than 200 landowners and concerned citizens. Presentations were given on property rights and land evaluation, possible legal action and past history of wind power in Texas.

At the end of the meeting, about 120 people completed an informal survey asking whether a steering committee should organize opposition to construction of a private transmission line.

More than 80 percent of those who responded voted to oppose the line.

"We will plan a meeting to stop the Hilliard line and also have more information on property devaluation for areas the line comes through," Ms. Stevens said.

Specific plans for that meeting have not been made. Ms. Stevens said the steering committee, which has organized two meetings so far, should have an update next week.


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

SEP 25 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17233-landowners-vote-no-to-power-line-plans
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