After sorting through a week of testimony and a mountain of public filings, a two-judge panel recommended this week that a controversial new power line from Krum to Anna run north of Lake Ray Roberts.
While the 85-page opinion from the State Office of Administrative Hearings judges endorsed Route 42, the opinion is not binding on the Public Utility Commission of Texas. The judges’ endorsement is the last of three recommendations made to the commissioners.
It also is the second suggestion for a northern route.
Residents had mixed reactions to the judges’ opinion, which narrowed Oncor’s 96 proposed routes to a cluster of possibilities. Those along a possible southern route that crosses Denton’s greenbelt corridor were pleased.
Kevin Keough and Christina Jennings of the Cross Timbers Coalition neighborhood group said in an e-mail that the coalition was pleased that of the five routes ranked by the judges, only one southern route made the list – and it was among the least preferred.
But they were mindful, too, that PUC commissioners could select any of the routes in the application.
Meanwhile, residents in western Denton County – especially along a segment that is part of both Route 42 and the PUC-recommended Route 83 – were devastated.
Residents there have long said that after another segment was determined unworkable, their communities became a funnel for the northern routes, just as the greenbelt communities did for southern routes. They also have said they don’t have the money or political ties that other landowners have to defend their land.
The Krum-to-Anna line is part of the state’s $5 billion Competitive Renewable Energy Zone project, a plan to bring more wind power from the Panhandle and West Texas.
When Oncor submitted its application to build the line, it was required to designate a preferred route, spokeswoman Catherine Cuellar said.
Oncor recommended Route 2288, a 51-mile path south of Ray Roberts Lake and over the greenbelt corridor. Oncor’s 96 submitted possible routes for the project were the most it has ever included in an application. The case also has been one of the company’s most contested, with about 700 interveners.
The company did not protest anyone’s application for special status to participate in the case and encouraged public’s input by holding community meetings, Cuellar said.
“The company works with affected landowners to make minor deviations that are acceptable to them,” Cuellar said.
The PUC plans to take up the matter Feb. 24 in a public meeting in Austin and to decide the final route by March 3.
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