Residents are queuing up for special standing so they may participate in Public Utility Commission of Texas talks over the routing of a power line from Krum to Anna.
Last week, Oncor filed its preferred route, along with 95 alternate routes, to build a 345-kilovolt power line. The matter is now before the PUCT, which must decide the final route by March 7.
Matt Welch, spokesman for the Greenbelt Alliance, a group of landowners who oppose a segment of the preferred route that goes through the natural area between Ray Roberts and Lewisville lakes, said that both individual landowners and the alliance are filing for the special status known as “intervenor.”
The alliance is encouraging all affected landowners to become intervenors, Welch said.
“When it’s appropriate for Denton residents to give their feedback directly to the PUCT, we are planning a field trip to Austin,” Welch said.
Individuals and groups can become intervenors if they show the PUCT that they are directly affected by the project, either on the preferred route or any of the proposed alternate routes. Nearly 1,700 landowners in 35 cities and four counties could potentially be affected by the plans, depending on the commission’s final decision about the route, according to Oncor’s filing.
The transmission line is part of a $4.93 billion project to increase the state’s capacity for wind-generated power to 18,456 megawatts each year. In March, the PUCT began approving sets of lines to bring more wind power generated near Snyder and Sweetwater and in the Panhandle to the state’s more populous areas. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in 2013.
Intervenor status comes with rights and responsibilities as the PUCT hears testimony about the lines before making its decision.
Oncor, the utility company that will build the lines, has proposed a fairly direct route through northern Denton County into the Collin County city of Anna, but it submitted alternatives that could take the line north through Cooke and Grayson counties instead.
Potential intervenors must apply for the status by the first week of October. In addition to other procedural requirements, they must attend at least two meetings in Austin in order to be available for cross-examination on their own testimony.
Bartonville resident Gracie Egan became an intervenor when Brazos Electric Cooperative proposed an electric substation in her area several years ago.
She didn’t hire an attorney, and she didn’t find the process difficult or burdensome.
“The people at the PUCT are very nice and help you understand the process,” Egan said. The substation ended up being built at another location.
In the Aubrey area, just east of the Greenbelt Corridor, residents along Rock Hill Road had a meeting this week at Trez Progar’s house to decide whether to join the alliance and consider other options.
“We’re not affected, but our property is the gateway to the neighborhood,” Progar said. “I care about what happens to my neighbors.”
She plans to protest the line. As a “protester” rather than an intervenor, she would have a lesser, but still official, status. She said she is worried about rumors that protests from neighboring property owners carry little weight with the PUCT.
Sanger resident Jeffrey Lichtman attended an informational meeting this week at the Pilot Point Senior Center, which was packed with residents who heard an experienced attorney and some conservation groups present several options.
“They all had good technical information,” Lichtman said.
He and his neighbors plan on filing to be intervenors. In addition, residents from Krum and Sanger are coming together. They are still considering the many legal options, he said.
Should the PUCT decide to not choose a route through the Greenbelt, residents in Krum and Sanger are concerned that their segments, now considered alternate routes, could be chosen to run the power line north of Ray Roberts Lake.
In the Kings Row neighborhood along northeast Loop 288, residents are scrambling, according to one homeowner there, Roy Anderson.
Homeowners did not learn that their neighborhood was even under consideration until they got notices in the mail that they were on the preferred route, Anderson said.
He and his business partner, who also has property in the area, are rushing to file for intervenor status. Then they’ll consider other options.
“In this David-and-Goliath battle, we’re Johnny-come-latelys to the David party,” Anderson said. “But we’re going to fight it.”
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