"AUSTIN (Sept. 1) – The Public Utilities Commission has directed the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the state’s electricity grid, to re-evaluate the need for a proposed Hill Country power line that would run from Schleicher to Gillespie counties. The move follows requests Rep. Harvey Hilderbran and Sen. Troy Fraser made for such a study.
In a July 23 letter to Barry Smitherman, chairman of the utilities commission, Hilderbran wrote, "The PUC and ERCOT need to assure all Hill Country residents that existing transmission lines are being fully utilized before adding more transmission projects in the Hill Country…. Therefore, I am requesting that ERCOT reexamine and update the Long-Term System Assessment (LTSA) to determine the need for any or all of the proposed CREZ projects before erecting CREZ lines that will cause great harm to the Hill Country."
Hilderbran’s letter referenced a report from ERCOT that said a separate proposed line from Fredericksburg to Lampasas would cost taxpayers $97 million more than updating the current lines, while only offering a one percent addition to wind energy annually.
"That report brought into question the necessity and economic justifiability of the McCamey D-Kendall-Gillespie route, too," Hilderbran said. "Route proposals have the line crossing through Schleicher, Menard, Kimble, Gillespie, Kendall, and Kerr counties. Modernizing existing lines is more environmentally sound, it protects Hill Country landowners, and it less expensive than the alternative."