I have had several people ask me who was who and what was what in this powerline deal. In response to their questions I am going to attempt my version of what has transpired. First the standard disclaimer applies on anything and everything I write. I take no responsibility for anything. I have an excuse, I cowboy for a living and the Editor of this paper continues to allow me to make a fool of myself.
As I see it; The Federal boys decided they wanted to develop some windpower and needed to get that power to where the important people lived. They set up ERCOT as a big regional energy zone boss to tell all the the smaller electric outfits how they wanted it done and referred to it as the CREZ line project. LCRA in our part of the world was designated to find the best possible route from McCamey to Kendall. Several alternatives were to be considered, submitted and analyzed by the ALJ and submitted to the PUC for final consideration and selection by January of 2011. The Texas State Legislature did their part and approved the state legislature necessary to comply with the federal mandates and get some money from Washington.
Who they are;
The Feds- Current administration, past administrations. federal energy folks, present and past congresses, the EPA and everyone else that is determined to help us regardless of the unintended consequences. They are the ones who are tearing down hydroelectric dams in the northwest to save the environment and building power lines across the Hill Country destroying habitat and ruining a truly unique and pristine part of the United States. This is all being done in the name of green energy to provide green jobs and save the environment. The Feds also get blamed by the other agencies for all the really dumb things that make no sense whatsoever. It is just government policy.
ERCOT- The Electric Reliability Council of Texas seems to have the say so on what is built and who is going to build it. They are the ones that decided that the Gillespie to Newton line wasn’t needed after the PUC couldn’t make a decision because they didn’t think the LCRA presented adequate alternatives for consideration. ERCOT also considered and dismissed the motion to put everything on hold and reconsider the line across the Hill Country. Getting a handle and what motivates ERCOT and who they answer to has been very difficult.
PUC- The Public Utility Commission of Texas will make the decision where the poweline goes and who gets it. Barry Smitherman and crew are appointed by the Governor and have dominion over all things large and small when it comes to utilities in this state. The PUC and its operations, mandates, etc., come up for review under the next legislative session. Lots of people claim to have access to Barry Smitherman but it looks like the guy who appointed him has the final say.
ALJ- The administrative law judge presides over this particular hearing by the State Office of Administrative Hearings. The judge makes sure all interveners have a legal right to testify and will hear all the reasons why and where the line should be built. He or she will hear and read mountains of testimony, filings and lawyers briefs over a six month period . He will then make a decision on what line he thinks is the best and submit it to the PUC.
LCRA- The Lower Colorado River Authority will have studied all of the various possible routes, estimated costs, calculated the environmental and human costs associated with the construction of the line and recommended a preferred route to the ALJ. The LCRA claim to be our friends and are here to resolve this issue so that everyone is happy with the end result. So far they have been very diligent at saying all of the right things yet running pretty roughshod over anyone here in the country that questions their approach in selecting this line. They hope to build the line, buy the power and mark it up and sell it to customers at a rate that is approved by the PUC.
P-Line- The designation that has been given to the most northerly route in this particular CREZ Line area. The P-Line if chosen will run from McCamey to Kendall through Scheichler, Menard, Mason, Gillespie and Kendall counties. This is the line that runs through us and the P-Line Intervention Association was set up to hire and fund the case to stop the powerline from being built across our part of the Hill Country.
CREZ Line- Competitive Renewable Energy Zone is the designation given to the lines and areas where these lines are being built. How many more are out there now and in the future proably is in the hands of the FEDS’
CVA- Clearview Alliance is a group of landowners and concerned citizens centered in Kimble County. They were responsible for getting the study area broadened to include Mason County. The preferred line goes right through center of the lands owned by their membership.
Horse Hollow – Is the name given to private line constructed by Florida Power and Light running west to east south of Mason County. They are trying to sell their newly constructed line to the LCRA as an alternative to the proposed CREZ Line.
Current News- The P-Line lawyers spent the past weekend working on rebuttal witness testimony for filing by Monday 10/18. The actual hearing is scheduled for 10 days-M-F October 25-November 5 at the Austin Convention Center. Testimonies can be viewed by going to the PUC INTERCHANGE website docket # 38354.
The PUC has recently ruled that the Kendall to Gillespie may yet be needed. The issue of what will be considered and not gets more confusing as time goes on. Horse Hollow will not be considered during the evidencery proceedings. The PUC staff have made suggestions to alter the existing preferred route to satisy some of CVA’s requests to parallel I-10. I am quite confident we will be confused until this ordeal is decided in January of 2011. Times and dates for individual witness testimony should be scheduled by Oct 22
nd. In the meantime the fight goes on. For further information contact Ron Crocker @ 325- 347- 6378 , Lee McMillan @ 325-347-6683 or Lee Lasater @ 325-347=9400.