On July 28, LCRA will submit to the Public Utility Commission its selection of a preferred route for the high voltage transmission lines connecting the McCamey D station to the final terminus in Comfort. That announcement will end months of speculation, discussion, meetings and arguing. On August 4, the News will have 16-20 pages of legal notices from LCRA providing the details of that final selection.
Then it really gets interesting.
That will be when the PUC begins its process of examining the LCRA's preferred route and alternate routes. They are the entity that will actually select the final route, and they are the ones that have been orchestrating much of the activity during these last months.
The LCRA had been only days away from submitting its route to the PUC when they were told to "expand the study area," and to "consider all options." Up till that point, Mason was at the bottom of their list. Suddenly, everything changed.
Oddly enough, the distances the line would have to travel did not change. It was still further to go through Mason. The costs of routing through Mason did not change, it would still be more expensive. The availability of existing rights of way did not change, Mason still has only one major power line easement in the study area.
And yet, everything changed.
The courts handed down a decision instructing utilities that they could not consider added costs as a detriment to construction along a route, even though those costs will eventually be passed along to ratepayers.
Our own elected officials have not been our allies in this fight. State Senator Troy Fraser introduced the original legislation that set the process into motion. State Representative Harvey Hilderbran resides in Kerrville, a community fighting the Interstate 10 route. Congressman Mike Conaway has stated that this is a local issue, not a federal one, and thus he cannot weigh in on one side or another.
Which brings it back to us.
A lot of people are content to let others carry the weight, to fight the battles. We are fortunate in that we have a number of people who have been very involved in opposing construction through our area. Our local elected officials have used a number of creative, and unusual, maneuvers in order to allow Mason County to have a "seat at the table" in the process. The various players have not always been willing to provide us a chair; but, we've proven that we can stand on our own two feet for the time it takes.
But now, it comes down to the wire.
If you've not written a letter, you still have time. If you've not contacted your elected officials, there is still time. If you've not made a donation to the organizations leading this fight, there is still time.
Or, you can allow others to do the work for you. You can lament the loss of our unspoiled countryside when lattice towers march across the hillsides, and wonder why no one tried to stop it from happening.
There is still time to use your power at the ballot box to tell elected officials that we don't appreciate being ignored. We don't appreciate placing our trust in them when their decisions are not based upon sound judgment or rational facts. And, we don't appreciate being lied to and manipulated, and we do remember being treated that way, and we will not let it go unanswered.
It’s all just my opinion.