SAN ANGELO, Texas – Having firefighting crews handy during construction, establishing guidelines for who can come on the property and even avoiding the spread of tree diseases are all among the issues that landowners may address as they negotiate rights of way for transmission lines to carry wind-generated electricity.
Those elements were part of the advice offered by Judon Fambrough, an attorney who works with the Texas A&M Real Estate Center, during his presentation Monday in San Angelo on the broader issue of selling easements to companies building electric power transmission lines.
The session comes only weeks after the Lower Colorado River Authority Transmission Services Corp. received final notice on the routing for the proposed Twin Buttes to McCamey D power line, which will carry electricity generated by West Texas wind farms into the main electric power grids of the state.
The agency now knows which property owners it needs to acquire easements from for construction of the 345kv lines. Fambrough warned the landowners Monday they might get pushed.
“They will always try to purchase more than they can condemn,” the lawyer told about 60 people in attendance. The policies and procedures that he received from the LCRA TSC, he said, indicate the company would only purchase more
than required when it is in the best interest of the LCRA – which, Fambrough said, is always.
Robert Cullick, a spokesman for the LCRA, said that most of the time an agreement is reached without needing to condemn the land.
“In a large number of cases, LCRA and the landowners work out the price,” Cullick said.
Fambrough was joined by Glen Webb, an attorney and the secretary for the Texas Wildlife Association, who were brought together by the TWA and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association to let landowners know of their rights during condemnation processes.
Webb spoke about the history of renewable energy, starting with the discovery of oil in Texas at the beginning of the 20th century and on to legislation within the last decade that promotes wind energy.
Renewable energy, Webb said, is “the single greatest issue facing the state of Texas.” He laid out scenarios in which companies could get tax relief of up to $105 million for a wind farm project that requires $105 million in capital, part of the government’s effort to make wind energy more palatable to large corporations because it is not yet as profitable as other forms of energy they could develop.
“Wind generators are still not competitive,” Webb said.
West Texas is in a unique situation because it has so much open land, he said, and parts of the Panhandle and West Texas are in the highest wind producing regions of the world. The available energy has spurred creation of Competitive Renewable Energy Zones to link wind energy production with markets in the growing I-35 corridor, Webb said.
“When they talk about renewable energy, think Tom Green County,” Webb said.
Participants at a seminar on transmission lines gave mixed reactions to the presentations.
“It was very informative,” said Gary Foster, a Sterling City rancher.
Foster said the order of negotiations most interested him.
Fambrough said a person may be able negotiate without legal counsel at first, then go before a special commission of local landowners to determine the price, and from there go to an all-out trial to determine the conditions of selling easements.
David Noble, who has a place in Coleman County, was more resigned.
“They’re coming,” Noble said about transmission services corporations. “And there is no way to stop them.”