Lawyers for the Lower Colorado River Authority say the city's complaint over possible changes to the route for the proposed 345-kilovolt power transmission line along Interstate 10 "borders on the frivolous" and could result in unnecessary expenses for both parties.
Lawyers for the city filed a complaint on June 17 with the Texas Public Utility Commission against LCRA over proposed changes to the route through Kerrville that the city says are beyond the route approved by the commission. The city also is already engaged in legal action against the Public Utility Commission, seeking to halt the proposed power lines.
In a response filed late last week, Fernando Rodriquez, attorney for the LCRA Transmission Services Corporation, said the LCRA is working within the direction of the Public Utility Commission to use public rights-of-way where possible and that conversations with the city and adjacent landowners about possible adjustments to the route were not specific proposals but were a courtesy offered to the parties in order to keep everyone informed.
"The Kerrville complaint is a prime example of the principle that no good deed goes unpunished," Rodriquez said.
According to court documents, LCRA began looking to adjust the proposed route through Kerrville to avoid the USDA Knipling-Bushland U.S. Livestock Insects Laboratory north of I-10. Federal officials notified LCRA earlier this year that the power lines could not be built on the USDA property, which abuts the Cecil Atkission car dealership.
One option being considered by LCRA would be to use the Texas Department of Transportation right-of-way along I-10, but city officials said this would damage the gateway into the community and could harm the welcome sign built at the exit ramp.
County Attorney Rob Henneke also filed a complaint on behalf of Kerr County, joining the city and Atkission, asking the Public Utility Commission to issue a cease and desist order.
The city also has filed suit in Travis County seeking to appeal the Public Utility Commission decision that puts the power lines through Kerrville and Kerr County. Also joining that lawsuit are the city of Junction and the Kerrville Public Utility Board.
A hearing has been set for Aug. 2 in Austin.
The city and LCRA entered into a "rule 11" agreement in April, which stated that LCRA will not begin building the power lines until after that hearing. Construction on the power lines is not expected to begin until next year.
Known as Competitive Renewable Energy Zones, the Texas Legislature in 1999 set forth a mandate to the LCRA to bring renewable energy from wind farms in West Texas to load centers throughout the state. Plans for transmission lines include routes through several area counties to connect the McCamey D Station, to be located in northern Schleicher County, to the existing Kendall Station, located in western Kendall County.
The route through Kerrville was approved by the three-member appointed Public Utility Commission on Jan. 20 and was one of 75 routes proposed by the LCRA, including one that would have cut through the Tierra Linda subdivision north of Kerrville. Neither of those routes were recommended by LCRA.
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McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Mark J. Armstrong Kerrville Daily Times, Texas