In the last few weeks, the paper has been full of stories about the LCRA CREZ line and the attempts by our neighbors to the southwest to have the route moved out of Kimble County and into Mason County. This week is no exception, and I would venture to guess that we will continue to see this as a topic of interest through July of 2010 when the permit application if finally filed with the PUC.
During meetings on Monday with community members, LCRA representatives explained that it was necessary to submit comments to LCRA and PUC that were detailed and personal explaining why the route through Mason would be a bad idea.
Please don't do it. Please do not even consider moving a high voltage transmission line through Mason County.
I am fully aware that in our energy starved world, it is vital that we find ways to produce energy, and to get it to consumers. I know that means there will have to be power lines, transmission facilities, and even generating facilities, constructed to meet the ever-growing demand.
I am also aware that we only have just over 3000 residents in our county, and many people would suggest that means we have very little voice or say in where these lines and facilities are constructed. I would suggest that our voices, though few, have a power and substance that even we are not always aware of if we use them correctly.
Kimble County already has a scar running the length of its east-west boundaries in the form of Interstate 10. They also have part of the Florida Power & Light line that runs through there. Rights of way have already been established, and easements cleared. An additional line, the LCRA CREZ line, would be able to parallel those routes and make its way south to Comfort where it would connect to the Kendal D station before sending its wind-generated power on to consumers in San Antonio.
Mason County has very few such scars across its landscape. There are a few gas/oil pipelines. There is an existing high voltage transmission line, though it is not nearly the line proposed for the CREZ project. A new line would clear vast amounts of timber and other flora, and would displace livestock and wildlife. There would be homes and businesses that might have to be moved elsewhere. There would be historical homesteads and historical sites that would become victims of construction, even if they are not destroyed, their environment and surroundings will be irreparably altered.
When I look out my office window, I look to the hill west of town, and try to envision it with 10-story metal lattice towers snaking their way over the top. The new water tower is an attractive addition to the skyline at 140 feet tall; but, the 180 foot tall powerline towers don't hold such an allure.
Visitors to Mason are able to imagine themselves transported back to another place and time, largely because they can turn themselves around and around and see the Hill Country much as it was two centuries ago when pioneers trekked through the area. Power lines are not part of that bucolic picture.
I run a newspaper. It depends upon the advertising revenue of businesses and individuals in the county and surrounding areas. If they start to lose business because visitors stop coming to Mason, they will not be able to advertise, and my revenue will take a severe hit. Our 20-24 page weekly paper will drop to 16 pages, then 12. Eventually, we won't be able to afford to produce a weekly publication for the people, and we will no longer be part of the fabric making up Mason.
The Mason County News has been here for over 135 years, in one form or another. There are two banks here over a century old. R. Grosse & Sons is a centenarian.
Don't let politics and pressure to make decisions based upon influence override decision making based upon established engineering and environmental criteria. Find a good route. Make it a route that impacts as few people as possible. Make it one that is economically viable for the producer and the consumer.
Just don't think that Mason is the route that meets any of those criteria.
It’s all just my opinion.