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Lines could impede growth

An established development company and others have big problems with the Public Utility Commission staff recommending a wind transmission line route that would slice between Amarillo and Canyon.

“This is not your five or 10 miles outside the city,” said Matt Griffith, vice president of Rockrose Development. “The majority of future growth of Amarillo and Canyon will be toward each other.”

The high-voltage lines would be hung from 140-foot towers just south of Sundown Lane on their way from near White Deer to the Hereford area.

“We get the need for it. We get that it will happen somewhere,” Griffith said. “We’re simply saying there are a lot of ways this could go and not interfere with homeowners and growth.”

Sharyland Utilities is planning to build the lines as part of the effort to plug wind turbines in the Panhandle into grids downstate.

“Sharyland Utilities has a longstanding policy of not commenting on regulatory and legal proceedings,” said Jeanne Phillips, spokesman for Sharyland Utilities.

“Since the beginning of this process, we have encouraged all stakeholders to closely monitor these proceedings and to fully engage in this process so that the Public Utility Commission of Texas can hear all concerns and make an informed decision.”

Rockrose has developed neighborhoods in southwest Amarillo such as Westover Park, Westover Village, City View and the Colonies.

“We have plans for where Randall High School is,” Griffith said. “That will be a neighborhood soon. And at Sundown and Soncy, there will be a rural neighborhood similar to Grey Hawk Landing.”

There are already existing structures along the route’s path near Sundown.

“It has the highest number of habitable structures near it of any other link, something like 10 times,” Griffith said.

The PUC must approve Wednesday’s staff recommendation.

Xcel Energy is also concerned about the route.

“Our top priority is ensuring the reliable and safe operation of our transmission and generating system,” said Xcel spokesman Wes Reeves. “The recommended route encroaches on some key Xcel Energy lines, substations and power plants. If a Sharyland line were to go down in a storm and impact our facilities, we could experience a major disturbance that could affect a large part of our service territory.

Other concerned landowners have objected to the route just south of Amarillo, but others have been outspoken about proposed routes over Palo Duro Canyon, both north of the state park and far south of there. Landowners along the Canadian River Breaks also strongly oppose a route across that area.

But Xcel has less presence on the far-south route.

“Our preference is a more southerly route that would have less impact on our facilities and on our residential and commercial customers around the Amarillo and Canyon area,” Reeves said.

Interested parties can call the PUC at 512-936-7180.

Sharyland announces next line routes
As part of the ongoing development of the wind industry in the Panhandle, Sharyland Utilities began the process Thursday to add another transmission line.
The company applied for approval of a route from southwest Briscoe County to northwest Dickens County.
The installation on one of 17 proposed alternative routes would cost from $150 million to $140 million. Sharyland’s preferred route would cost $146 million. Routes range from 55 miles long to 70 miles, according to the filing. They would require 175-foot-wide rights of way. Towers carrying the lines could range from 123 to 143 feet high.
Sharyland developed the alternatives after engineering and environmental studies and three community meetings about one year ago that attracted 313 people.
The deadline to file for intervention and to comment on the routes is Oct. 8, according to the company’s website. The Public Utility Commission will then have six months to gather information and make a decision on a final route.
– Staff writer Kevin Welch