CenterPoint Transmission Lines Not Needed

Speakers line-up at Fayetteville County Judge Ed Janecka's Town Hall meeting on Thursday, May 26, 2011

Texans are getting a handle on the big decisions that effect our lives — taking charge of whether or not super structures will plow through the undeveloped countryside of our muchly rural yet rapidly growing and diversifying state.   We’ve identified better ways for our state to grow – with distributed clean energy and smart transportation solutions so our people and our environment can become healthier.

 To wit:  only a portion of the planned megahighway known as the Trans-Texas Corridor was built. Sierra Club’s hat’s off to our members and other Texans who became organized, fought, and blocked the majority of the segments of that un-needed, prairie killing concept.

Could the same people’s victory come true in the brewing scenario where CenterPoint, a Transmission & Distribution Utility aka a ‘poles and wires’ company proposes to plow across south Texas and plunk down humongous and un-needed, electricity transmission lines?  Maybe so.  Maybe without ANY segments being built…

Austin County Judge Carolyn Bilski conducts Town Hall meeting where she peppered CenterPoint Energy with landowners' questions, Wednesday, May 25, 2011

OPPOSITION TO CENTERPOINT TRANSMISSION LINES  Texas’ grid operator, ERCOT and the Public Utility Council of Texas (PUC) seem to think it would be a good idea to connect the LCRA’s Fayette coal-burning power plant to the Houston area.  This past week CenterPoint and the PUC faced questions from a lot of pissed-off and upset landowners who don’t think CenterPoint’s plans are such a great idea at all.  

Sierra Club agrees. 

So does Austin County Commissioners’ Court and the Fayette County Commissioners’ Court.  Both Counties voted recently to formally oppose the CenterPoint Transmission Lines project. 

Austin County Town Hall, May 25

A few weeks ago, CenterPoint held what landowner activists called ‘dog and pony’ shows where one quick-thinking couple stood on a table and easily gathered about 300 of their neighbors to meet outside in the parking lot.  Over a couple of weeks, people from different localities formed powerful local organizations:  VOLT, the Tri-Community Alliance  of Cat Spring, New Ulm, and Frelsburg, Save Historic Shelby, and PACT .  The Texas Pecan Alliance is actively involved while the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club and Katy Prairie Conservancy  have been advocating for protection of the Katy Prairie for years and also oppose the proposed lines.

 WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP  With the swelling opposition, PUC opened Docket #39380 to take public comments.  You can track the case by clicking here.  Go to Retrieve Filings, then Filings Search: Enter 39380 as Control Number and click Search. Open any of the documents by clicking on the Item Number. 

And you can write your own letter of objection.  Make sure to send 10 copies to:

Project Reference# 39380:  PUC- Central Records, Att: File Clerk, 1701 N Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78711

You can also ask PUC in your comments to hold the upcoming PUC hearing on the CenterPoint proposal in Bellville, Austin County where more affected parties would be able to attend.

 ELECTED OFFICIALS HELP  Austin County Judge Bilski and Fayette County Judge Janecka brought together and presided at packed Town Hall meetings last week in Bellville, May 25 and Fayetteville, May 26.  The comments and questions flowed.  And THIS is what democracy looks like!

This popular uprising against the CenterPoint transmission lines influenced Texas State Senator Glenn Hegar and Representative Lois Kolkhorst to jump in to help their constituents.   “This amendment toughens the application process for power line transmission projects like the one proposed by CenterPoint,” said Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), who worked with Hegar’s office to attach an amendment to House Bill 971 in the last week of the recently concluded Texas Legislative Session. That bill now sits on Governor Perry’s desk waiting to be signed into law.

WHY SIERRA CLUB OPPOSES NEW TRANSMISSION LINES FROM FAYETTE COAL PLANT  Here is the awesome letter that Houston Sierra Club’s Air Quality and Wilderness and Wild Lands Conservation Chair Brandt Mannchen wrote for Sierra Club to the PUC.  Take at look.  And then, please send your comments to the PUC. 

Feel free to Keep It Simple, See?  

Just make sure to send 10 copies to:

Project Reference# 39380:
PUC- Central Records
Att: File Clerk
1701 N Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78711

Sierra Club questions the need for the proposed power lines and opposes the Transmission lines on many accounts. 

More and more rooftop solar arrays are going up in Texas! In fact, solar increased by 221% in Texas in 2010. This array is on Austin Community College, Northridge Campus

SERIOUS AIR QUALITY & HEALTH DAMAGE CONCERNS  Sierra Club is working to reduce air and water pollution in Texas so we want to phase out the burning of coal at Fayette coal plant.  We support the transition that is currently happening in Texas to clean renewable and water-saving energy such as more wind power and particularly on-site, distributed solar power on existing roofs and parking lots.  New transmission lines from Fayette coal plant would mean more air and water pollution and more global warming. 

Fayette Coal Plant - #7 on Top Ten Most-Polluting Industrial Facilities in Texas

Sierra Club is cleaning up the air and reducing the causes of climate disruption by blocking coal plants across the nation.  In Texas, coal plants are the top 10 industrial air polluters — Fayette coal plant is #7 on that list.  DOC.  Nationwide, Texas coal plants are number one for highly toxic mercury pollution, ground level ozone-forming nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide the principal greenhouse gas.  That’s a terrible legacy so Sierra Club is campaigning with our allies to move Beyond Coal.    We have recently blocked over 150 new coal plants proposed across the nation.

Katy Prairie wildlife

PLANT, WILDLIFE, AND WILDERNESS CONSERVATION  Sierra Club also wants to protect and conserve the undeveloped Katy Prairie and deep sand, heritage post oaks and forested wetland habitats of the Brazos, San Bernard, and Colorado River bottomlands.  Read more about that and the special critters who live there – including the endangered American Bald Eagle and Houston Toad, in Sierra Club’s letter to PUC. 

TRANSMISSION LINES NOT NEEDED  A Houston-based energy company Calpine submitted comments to the PUC

on the CenterPoint proposal questioning the need for the new lines.  The Calpine view shows that there is plenty of generation already in the Houston area and, on top of that, a new power plant set to go online soon.  Calpine says that there is no need for these lines.

About 600 people attended the Austin County Town Hall on May 25. Please petition the PUC today to hold the CenterPoint hearing in Bellville.

Transmission lines have been stopped before.   If you’d like to volunteer to help the campaign to stop the CenterPoint transmission lines from Fayette coal plant, contact Donna Hoffman at 512-477-1729 or donna.hoffman@sierraclub.org.  Or, contact Harvey Hayek, Texas Pecan Alliance,  total@cvctx.com.

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3 responses to “CenterPoint Transmission Lines Not Needed

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