On October 7, last week Oncor filed its preference with the PUC to construct a 345KV Transmission Line across San Saba County. There are currently no transmission lines like this in the county, although some lines like it can be seen on the way to Brownwood along Hwy45 in Brown County.
This is a huge structure which would stretch about 40miles across the county and which will dominate the skyline instead of hills and trees, and damage property values for properties in the vicinity of the line. It would occupy a 160foot wide easement that would be clearcut and maintained for the use of the power line company while making all other landowner uses subservient to that purpose. A calculation of total negative impact to property values in the “damage corridor” (defined as the easement plus adjacent properties in the vicinity whose marketable value is adversely affected) averages about $950 per acre (higher closer in, lower further out). Astonishingly, the damage corridor is reasonably judged about 10% of San Saba County landmass, with the total damage to property values in the vicinity of over 70million dollars for landowners in the path thru San Saba County.
In its Wednesday filing to the PUC in Austin, Oncor estimated that it expects to pay $9.425million to acquire 92 total miles of easement right of way. This ratios to about $4million to acquire easement right of way in 40 or so miles of San Saba County, paying only for the easement footprint. Compare Oncor’s implied $4million cost of right of way in San Saba with the estimated total property damage of over $70million and you begin to see the problem for San Saba property owners near the Transmission line.
A solution is at hand, however; if Oncor were to apply the PUC’s guidelines regarding community values and aesthetics they would use existing utility corridors that exist north of the Colorado River and, thus, traversing San Saba County while crossing Colorado River twice would be unnecessary. The days of spreading such transmission lines out over relatively pristine greenspaces because it affects fewer people (Oncor’s apparent strategy) must end if we are going to preserve relatively undeveloped areas of greenspace from an environmental point of view. Rather than clearcutting thru new greenspace these utility projects should follow existing utility corridors. As a gentleman in Llano has said, “Wind power is renewable, but the Hill Country is NOT.” I would suggest to you that this applies to San Saba County as well as anywhere. The hurdle we have to overcome is that this “solution” is going to require many voices from San Saba County property owners and citizens. The PUC in Austin needs to hear from many of us.
I wrote a letter to the editor recently informing that landowners in San Saba County have begun to organize to fight Oncor’s plans. If you do not wish to have this huge structure either crossing your property, or near your property, or even in San Saba County, and if you wish to help us oppose this project, we do need your help immediately.
We take the position that the best interest of San Saba County landowners and of Texas electric ratepayers is served by Oncor building the transmission line in the shortest and straightest possible line segments between its terminals which necessarily does not cross the Colorado River, taking advantage of existing easement corridors in that route instead of unnecessarily despoiling the Colorado and points in-between in San Saba County.
We need to hear from more landowners who are affected, but you do not have to be a landowner, if you live in the county and do not wish to see this happening in our County you can still help.
Anyone who wishes to help us with this effort should contact Michael Usery 325 205 2141 or Roger Whatley 512 635 4468 or Debbie Taff 325 372 4346.