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Volunteers circulating petitions

Petitions asking local citizens to oppose private power line construction are being collected this week by volunteers in six Hill Country counties. "We're going to try to collect as many signatures as we can by Nov. 15; then we will hand deliver the petitions to the powers that be in Austin," Suzy Stewart who has helped organize the petition drive, said. Ms. Stewart is working with a Harper-based steering committee that held a public meeting Thursday to organize opposition to possible power line construction by Florida Power and Light Energy.

Petitions asking local citizens to oppose private power line construction are being collected this week by volunteers in six Hill Country counties.

"We're going to try to collect as many signatures as we can by Nov. 15; then we will hand deliver the petitions to the powers that be in Austin," Suzy Stewart who has helped organize the petition drive, said.

Ms. Stewart is working with a Harper-based steering committee that held a public meeting Thursday to organize opposition to possible power line construction by Florida Power and Light Energy.

That company has commissioned Midland-based Hilliard Energy to lease land-easements from local landowners.

However, a spokesman from FPL Energy said in September that his company has no current plans to build a private line, though FPL Energy is seeking land easements to keep future development options open.

"The idea would be to bring the power from West Texas to the load centers throughout the state," Steve Stengel, an FPL Energy spokesman said in September. "What we are looking at would be to take more of a north-south route going from the western part of the state."

FPL Energy owns the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center near Abilene.... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Petitions asking local citizens to oppose private power line construction are being collected this week by volunteers in six Hill Country counties.

"We're going to try to collect as many signatures as we can by Nov. 15; then we will hand deliver the petitions to the powers that be in Austin," Suzy Stewart who has helped organize the petition drive, said.

Ms. Stewart is working with a Harper-based steering committee that held a public meeting Thursday to organize opposition to possible power line construction by Florida Power and Light Energy.

That company has commissioned Midland-based Hilliard Energy to lease land-easements from local landowners.

However, a spokesman from FPL Energy said in September that his company has no current plans to build a private line, though FPL Energy is seeking land easements to keep future development options open.

"The idea would be to bring the power from West Texas to the load centers throughout the state," Steve Stengel, an FPL Energy spokesman said in September. "What we are looking at would be to take more of a north-south route going from the western part of the state."

FPL Energy owns the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center near Abilene. This week, officials from Concho and Runnels Counties, both south of Abilene, said some local land owners have been contacted by Hilliard about negotiating land easements.

"I know that there are a couple of companies that are looking for some preliminary type things. I don't think anything is concrete yet," Judge Allen Amos of Concho County said.

Amos said he had heard of both Hilliard and FPL Energy in regard to the purchase of land easements but said he knew of no specific plans or timeline for any construction.

Representatives from Hilliard have declined to talk about their work. FPL Energy representatives have not returned phone calls.

In September, an FPL Energy subsidiary filed paperwork with the Public Utility Commission to build part of a transmission line mandated by the Texas legislature.

Parts of that line would likely come through Gillespie County.

Jess Totten, director of competitive marketing for the PUC, spoke in Harper Thursday to citizens opposed to private power lines.

The group, which met at St. Anthony Catholic Church, has said that they do not oppose construction mandated by the state.

Totten answered questions about the PUC construction process and said that the staff of the PUC has recommended that the Lower Colorado River Authority build parts of the state-mandated line in Gillespie County.

However, Totten said that recommendation could change. The commission will likely not choose a company to construct the line until early 2009.

Initial line routing could take a year to complete with approval taking an additional year.

Totten said he did not have specific information on any private line but said that if FPL Energy does have construction plans, the company might be trying to sidestep the lengthy PUC process.

"What I believe the Hilliard, FPL advantage is getting to market first," Totten said. "I think what they believe they can do is build a private line more quickly than the lines that the commission has identified."

Representatives from FPL Energy have not commented on the company's strategy.

Also at Thursday's meeting, Sergeant James Ahrens of the Gillespie County Sheriff's Department briefly addressed trespassing complaints. Some attendees said they had seen unauthorized surveyors on their property.

Ahrens told landowners to calmly approach trespassers if they do not appear dangerous.

"A lot of times when we get there, they're gone," Ahrens said. "We prefer that the landowner, if not threatened, confront them."

The identities or affiliations of any trespassers have not been confirmed.

Also last week, members of the Harper steering committee drafted a resolution to oppose private power line construction in Gillespie County.

That resolution was passed Monday by the Gillespie County Commissioners Court.


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

NOV 12 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17908-volunteers-circulating-petitions
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