Mason County News
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Organization Formed To Oppose Transmission Line
Wednesday, October 21, 2009 • Posted October 21, 2009

The Texas Hill Country Heritage Association was formed in 2009 in response to the threat of a 345-kilovolt LCRA TSC transmission line through Menard, Mason, and Gillespie Counties. The immediate goal of the organization is to form a response plan to defeat the routing of this line through the region, which would decimate the pristine landscape and disturb ecologically sensitive lands without providing commensurate benefits to the people who live there.

The threat of a 345-kilovolt transmission line with 18-story towers running through the heart of Mason County and around the edge of town has prompted the formation of a nonprofit citizens' organization based in Mason, called the Texas Hill Country Heritage Association (THCHA). This group was organized to oppose the routing of LCRA TSC's proposed line through this unspoiled part of the Hill Country and to respond to other threats to the region's land and water.

All interested citizens are strongly encouraged to attend THCHA's first membership meeting , the location, date and time to be announced. At that time, the founders of the new organization will lead a discussion about the proposed transmission line and a strategy for making this region's voices heard. Volunteers will also be recruited for various action committees.

Prior to this first membership meeting, interested citizens may receive updates and offer suggestions by calling (325) 347-9300 or emailing the organization at texashcha@yahoo.com.

The proposed LCRA TSC transmission line is part of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) project to deliver wind-generated power from West Texas and the Panhandle to urban areas of the state. Mason County was officially drawn into the current routing controversy on September 24, 2009, when the Public Utilities Commission extended LCRA TSC's deadline for filing a proposed route from Schleicher to Kendall Counties until July 6, 2010. At the same time, the PUC directed LCRA TSC to expand its study area to examine several alternative routes that were not previously being considered, including the old West Texas Utilities right -of-way through Menard, Mason, and Gillespie Counties.

LCRA TSC has indicated that it will not hold an "open house" to gather public input on this route until January. Believing that the affected communities should not wait that long to get involved in the process, several concerned citizens came together to form THCHA. The organization's immediate goal is to prevent the use of the Menard-Mason-Gillespie route for the proposed utility line.

One of the arguments put forward in favor of using the old West Texas Utilities route is that the proposed LCRA TSC line would parallel an existing right-of-way rather than creating a new one. However, that argument overlooks the fact that the additional line would significantly change the landscape in the three affected counties. The existing transmission line consists of creosote poles approximately 40 to 60 feet high and a 60-foot right-of-way, most of which is not even cleared more than 30 feet. In wooded areas, the existing line barely protrudes above the treetops. LCRA TSC's proposed 180-foot metal lattice structures and 160-foot clear-cutting would be highly visible from long distances, permanently scarring more than 100 miles of pristine Hill Country scenery and injuring the lives and livelihoods of many families.

The founders of THCHA believe that the proposed line is not the last threat of this kind that our region will face and that a well-organized citizens' group is essential to respond quickly to this threat and future problems.

The initial officers of THCHA are: Lee Lasater, Chairman; Roger Jordan, vice-chairman; Sheila Cooper, secretary; and Lee McMillan, treasurer. Others who have volunteered to serve on the board are Dan Barton, Ron Crocker, Mike Dail, Chad Lemke, Peter Pincoffs, Rebekah Whitworth, and Scott Zesch.

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