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Officials: Not in my backyard  

Credit:  By Yann Ranaivo, Amarillo Globe-News, www.amarillo.com 26 August 2010 ~~

Randall County commissioners will be in Austin on Sept. 20 to address state utility officials about where they want proposed wind-energy transmission lines to run through their backyard.

The lines are part of a 345 kilovolt wind-energy grid that will run from Hereford to White Deer. The grid is being built by Sharyland Utilities and has 12 possible routes, with the preferred path going around Amarillo to the northwest. That route, estimated to cost $190 million, is 91 miles long.

But officials in the some of the counties the grid will traverse are in favor of an alternative that would have the transmission lines pass south of Canyon, through Palo Duro Canyon and just west of Claude before reaching White Deer.

Randall County Judge Ernie Houdashell said the route he and Armstrong County favor is away from the more heavily populated areas of Randall County and would likely not stand in the way of emergency aircraft that operate more frequently around Amarillo and Canyon. He said some of the other alternative routes run through the middle of Randall County and cross major roadways.

“For them to cross (Interstate) 27 is not acceptable. They’re big,” he said, referring to the lines’ size. “Down in that area (west of Claude and south of Canyon), the chances of a helicopter coming down that route is pretty slim.”

Houdashell will further inform commissioners about his preferred route before going to Austin. The testimony, which the Randall County Commissioners Court agreed on Tuesday to prepare, will be presented during the Public Utility Commission of Texas’ hearing on the Sharyland project.

Sharyland is in the approval and route-selection process for its grid, which will deliver power throughout the state. Rate payers in other parts of Texas will pay for construction and operation of the system because the Panhandle is in a separate electrical grid. Sharyland officials could not be reached Tuesday to provide estimates about the cost of building Armstrong and Randall counties’ preferred route.

Houdashell said the transmission project could add $225,000 to Randall County’s tax rolls. Armstrong County could get $271,000 from the project.

“There’s a tax benefit, but this is not about the money,” Houdashell said. “In my mind, we lose more in beauty than in money.”

Source:  By Yann Ranaivo, Amarillo Globe-News, www.amarillo.com 26 August 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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