Landowners battle CenterPoint over power lines

June 2, 2011 4:20:33 PM PDT
There's a power struggle brewing between CenterPoint Energy and hundreds of local landowners.

The power company wants to build large transmission lines that would cut right across their land, and the landowners don't like it.

It's quiet in Austin County, and that's exactly what Bonnie Russell likes about it.

"Undisturbed, uncluttered, beautiful vistas, the peace and quiet of the area," Russell said.

But she's worried it could give way to a constant hum.

Large transmission lines stretching from Zenith Substation in far west Harris County east 60 miles to Fayetteville constructed by CenterPoint Energy could be build right next to her land.

"We question the need for the project," Russell said.

She helped form the group VOLT, Voices Opposed to Large Transmission Lines.

"Projects like this are very intrusive to the land and to the landowners themselves," Russell said.

CenterPoint is considering different size towers for the transmission lines. They would be anywhere from 116 to 150 feet tall and require anywhere from 150 to 200 feet worth of access.

"From an economic perspective it keeps lower priced power from freely flowing into the greater Houston area," said John Kellum with CenterPoint Energy's Transmission Operations.

CenterPoint says the lines are needed to ease power congestion and that it'll cheapen the cost of electricity in the Houston area.

And while the Energy Reliability Council says the line is not needed, it still approved it. That's not sitting well with the hundreds of who've attended a series of public meetings.

"We haven't found too many people that are inviting us onto their property for this project," Kellum said.

But the fight is not over. CenterPoint still has to send its plan to the Public Utility Commission for approval.

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