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Save1431 held an open meeting on Wednesday, May 11th at 6:30pm at the SouthStar Bank branch on FM 1431. Many attended as we gave an update on the events on the transmission line case to date. We were also joined by Former PUC Commissioner and now attorney Jo Campbell who was available to answer questions regarding this case and what we’re heading towards.

Meeting Summary

  • Steve Garcia gave a brief summary of what the LCRA submitted as to the PUC in regards to all routes and their preferred route. The interactive map was available to view on the screen with Route 31 highlighted.
  • Steve Garcia explained what an intervenor is and why it’s important to submit your application for intervention by June 13th.
  • Attorney Jo Campbell was available through the meeting to answer the attending homeowner’s questions specifically to legal direction, estimated costs, who would and should be involved and why, and what will be most effective when battling the PUC.

Notable Questions Asked

  • Who can be an intervenor?
    • Anyone who lives or owns property/buildings within 300 feet of any of the proposed routes making you directly affected by the power lines and a packet was sent. Within the packet was both an intervenor and protest form. Anyone can submit a protest form which is the same as the personal letters that have been sent. An intervenor must either be a) owner of a directly affected habitable structure including businesses, churches, schools and parks or b) indirectly affected by use or connection with directly affected structures. An example would a homeowner whose home is not directly affected with a child attending a school that is.A directly affected intervenor can not be immediately dismissed, but an indirect intervenor can. A 5-day appeal can be made to state your case why you should be allowed if immediately dismissed. This all must be done prior to the June 13th deadline
  • What is the typical costs to hire an attorney?
    • Attorney Campbell could only give an estimated range based on similar cases. The costs would include hourly legal fees from the attorney and the hiring of experts in the various fields that would be allowed to testify as witnesses to argue our case. The courts will ask the opposing sides to state the desire to move the lines, but also to give realistic alternate routes with proof from the experts to state our claim. Expert witnesses could include a land appraiser to verify the price of land for our proposed route, a construction representative to verify the cost of installation, an electrical engineer with the ability to validate the proposed route is possible.It is not required that an attorney be hired, however the hiring of the expert witnesses may need to be a required to argue both sides of the case, not only moving the lines but also giving an alternate recommended route.

      Based on a range of recent cases, she believes our costs would be between $50K to $100K for an attorney and the expert witnesses.

  • What does the County Commissioner’s filing as an intervenor mean?
    • The County Commissioner’s filing means they will have a voice in the case and not be by-standards. They have yet to vote regarding the route itself; this may not happen at all. Save1431 spoke at the open meeting requesting that they do vote to be intervenors but also to consider having a voice in support for the route to be moved to a more rural route that does directly and indirectly affect thousands of homes.The Commissioner’s stated they used a case in Hutto where they opted to not get involved and when the decision was finally made, not in their favor, they could not intervene.
  • How strong of a case do we truly have?
    • Attorney Campbell stated the PUC does not consider loss of home values as a reason for the lines to be moved. Their position does not require or need to consider this argument as evidence. The two strongest arguments will be the location of schools and parks in relation to the proposed route. She feels our case is strong as we have The Hatch House, the Westside Church of Christ that has a Mother’s Day Out program five days a week, the private school that is being built on CR175 directly next to the proposed substation at location 1-7 and also the location of the Williamson County Southwest Regional Park. With those all directly affected give us a strong case to which the PUC cannot disregard.