OPINION COLUMNS

Power line plan should return to drawing board

By | Published Sunday, June 27, 2010

In what seems to be a trend, our private property rights are again under assault.

Oncor has proposed two high-voltage transmission lines that will impact home and business owners in Wise County. Proposed routes take these 345,000-volt transmission lines and their large supporting towers through private property and next to many private homes. The easement they are seeking includes the property where many homes and businesses are currently located.

If one looks at the preferred routes, you have to wonder if this was a project done by a first-grade class using hand-drawn maps and crayons. A casual observer and perhaps a 5th grade class could have easily drawn a route that had much less impact on private homes and land.

The route through south Wise County could have followed creeks, railroad rights-of-way and bottom land that is in a five-year flood plan that would have had no impact on anyone’s home or business. Instead, the route takes several unexplained turns and twists that seem to aim it through areas of homes and private lands that could someday be developed.

Studies clearly show a linkage to the EMI generated from these high voltage lines to higher risks for cancer in children, lower fertility rates for livestock, increased incidents of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes and lower property values for those lucky enough to have these towers and lines in clear view.

Ask any electrical engineer and they will tell you (unless employed by Oncor) that they would never live anywhere near one of these transmission lines.

The Texas PUC very seldom listens to the public in these types of applications. It is highly likely that the proposed routes will be approved. That is unless “We the People” stand up for our rights and tell Oncor and the PUC that we will be the final arbitrator of where these right of ways will be granted and that our individual property rights will not be taken away through eminent domain or any other legal process.

Stop in at the Rhome City Hall or the Springtown Library and see for yourself the right-of-way that Oncor wants to take from our private holdings. Take a good look at the proposed routes and if you have lived in Wise County for even a few years, I’ll bet a dinner at your favorite restaurant that you can find a route that has much less of an impact on homes and businesses.

We have an abundance of flood-plain lands and railroad rights-of-way that can easily be used for these routes.

I urge you all to study this and take a stand to protect property rights of individuals in Wise County. Contact your county commissioner, county judge, state senator and state representative to share your concerns.

If you are directly affected, be sure to become an intervenor in this case so you can make yourself heard before the PUC when the hearing is scheduled.

If you are not directly affected but want to stand up for our individual property rights, file a protest with your comments. The forms needed to do this can be found on the PUC website at www.puc.state.tx.us or by calling the PUC at (512) 936-7261. All affected landowners should have received this package in the mail.

Do not sit by and let Oncor and the PUC take your rights without a fight.

A website, www.wisewatch.org, has been established for those who want to help fight this proposed route or just keep informed as to the impact of these high-voltage lines. It is currently being developed, and information will be posted on a regular basis. It will include links about the safety concerns of EMI, the process of eminent domain and why these lines are being proposed.

What makes this even more pathetic is that the proposed lines are “needed” to haul electricity generated from windmill farms in West Texas. Wind-generated electricity is far more expensive than that generated at a gas-fueled power plant. Also, because wind energy is not 100 percent reliable, extra capacity has to be built in traditionally powered generator plants to meet demands when the wind is quiet.

We would all be better served if the $97 million proposed to be spent on this line were to be used to build a clean, gas-fueled generator.

I’m sure the fifth grade class could come to that conclusion as well.

Joling has been a resident of Wise County for 21 years. He has been active in Wise County citizens’ issues such as shallow waste-water injection wells and long-range planning. He is a retired telecommunications executive and currently does consulting work for that industry. Joling and his wife have a small ranch near Boyd which will be in the path of the proposed Oncor high-voltage transmission line.

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