P – Line Intervention Association
PO BOX 1640
Mason, Texas 76856
July 22, 2010
Barry Smitherman, Chairman
Public Utilities Commission of Texas
1701 N. Congress Avenue
PO BOX 13326
Austin, Texas 78711-3326
RE: Docket # 37049 / 38354
Highway 277 / IH-10 endorsement by the P- Line Intervention Association
We the "P-line Intervention Association" comprised of individual landowners in Menard, Mason, and Gillespie counties respectfully submit for the record of the Lower Colorado River Authority TSC and Public Utility Commission of Texas and their respective staff our specific endorsement of the highway 277 / IH-10 route for the McCamey D to Kendall portion of the proposed LCRA TSC Competitive Renewable Energy Zone transmission line. We stand united in opposition to all of the "P-line" segments (P1, P2a, P2b, P3, P4a, P4b, P5, P6a, P6b, P7, P8a, P8b, and P9) through Menard, Mason, and Gillespie counties.
There are significant differences between the two routings in many important ways. Properties identified adjacent to IH-10 throughout rural Texas other than farms and ranches, consist of mining operations, petroleum compression stations, electrical transmission lines, a variety of communication towers, and numerous large billboards, wind towers, commercial, industrial, and office uses. For obvious reasons a very small percentage of real estate along the Interstate is utilized for residential use. In fact, rights of access for landowners adjacent to IH-10 are extremely restricted by the applicable federal statutes resulting in far fewer homes and structures adjacent to IH-10 which would be affected by the use of this corridor.
The Interstate attracts a significant amount of commercial industry due to its limited access and higher traffic counts. Interstate highways were created as main arteries for the transportation of commerce throughout the country thereby making this corridor the ideal location for the placement of the transmission line. It is basically an industrialized traffic corridor. In total contrast, are the rural and agricultural communities of Menard, Mason and Gillespie Counties. Those seeking and purchasing residential estates and agricultural and/or recreational use properties in this area search for solitude and unspoiled views and rely heavily on aesthetics and existing community and social values.
By selecting the highway 277 and IH-10 route, the Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURA Section 37.056) criteria which have already been decreed by the Commission in deciding to grant a CCN, and with it the final location of the transmission route provides numerous opportunities to satisfy required criteria by minimizing the effects on community values, recreational and park areas, historical and aesthetic values, and the environmental and ecological integrity along the transmission line. The highway 277 and IH 10 route complies with Commission rules used in determining whether the proposed route utilizes or parallels existing compatible rights-of-way, property lines or other features, and whether the routes conform to the policy of prudent avoidance.
Placement of the transmission line in the above mentioned ROW’s positively addresses landowner’s interests by not destroying unspoiled rural land. This ultimately will again avoid serious time and public resource consuming court battles. Legal wrangling which slows down the whole process and results in drastically higher costs for the Texas tax and rate payers. From a line functionality perspective, the ease and access gained from the existing transportation rights-of-way would provide quick and effective construction and maintenance. This will be the most efficient manner. Again, because existing ROW’s will be used, less new ROW would be needed which then makes the project more efficient.
Chairman Smitherman, quoted by the Austin American Statesman in an article "Utility Commission rejects route of line to bring wind power from West Texas" - April 23, 2010… "If we ignore landowners’ interests and cut through small and large properties, we could end up in court, which would further slow down the entire process. The better course of action is to do it right the first time". The "P-line" through Menard, Mason, and Gillespie counties when designed and incorporated by the LCRA does exactly what the Chairman of the PUC has stated he wants to avoid. The existing 138 Kv transmission line on the "P-Line alternative "suggested by LCRA was constructed prior to regulations or laws existing to protect the historical, cultural, environmental and ecological resources.
This is a "Pass through" transmission line. As such, it passes through the Hill Country and transports its power to the major metropolitan areas beyond the Hill Country. One of the PURA criteria listed under 37.056(E) "the probable improvement of service or lowering of cost to consumers in the area if the certificate is granted" is seriously unsatisfied by this routing.
There is no logic nor compelling reason to follow in whole or in part the existing 138 Kv transmission line through Menard, Mason, and Gillespie Counties since it does not meet the requirement of being a compatible right-of-way. A right-of-way which leads to the wrong destination cannot be considered compatible.
Finally, the highway 277 and IH – 10 routes from McCamey D to Kendall is now specifically endorsed by City and County Commissioners, local heritage groups, homeowners associations, businesses and numerous private citizens. We encourage the use of monopoles in any setting and the burying of transmission lines where practical. The resulting effects of the scarring of both the land and people of the beautiful and truly unique Texas Hill Country by the destructive transmission lines will be felt by generations to come and will be impossible to explain as our legacy to the future.
P-Line Intervention Association
Cc: The Honorable Rick Perry, Governor of Texas
Troy Fraser, Texas State Senator
Harvey Hilderbran, Texas House of Representatives
Rebecca A. Klein, Chairman Lower Colorado River Authority
Doug Miller, Texas House of Representatives
Addendum by Ron Crocker to above letter:
If you are a landowner with this powerline crossing your land or coming close enough to diminish your property values please contact the P-Line Intervention Association at 347-9400, Ron Crocker 347-6378, Lee McMillan 347-6638, or Lee Lasaster at 347-1078. A legal fund has been established and Austin Lawyer Kay Trostle has been put on retainer to defend our rights in Austin. LCRA will post notices to all landowners in the Mason News on August 4th. Together we can win this battle, as individuals we dont have a chance. Go to the Texas Hill Country Heritage Association website at www.thcha.org to obtain further information or call the above numbers.