Frisco HOAs band together in fight against high-voltage lines

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by JOBIN PANICKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @jobinpnews

WFAA

Posted on September 6, 2013 at 11:04 PM

Updated Saturday, Sep 7 at 9:04 AM

FRISCO -- A couple dozen homeowners' association leaders met Thursday night as part of the newly-formed West Frisco Homeowners Coalition.

Together, they're plotting their next move to fight new high-voltage transmission lines and a substation through Frisco.

At first, Brazos Electric hoped to submit its application for the project to the Public Utilities Commission by October, but has now backed off on that date.

Residents still feel like they’ve been caught off-guard with what they call “improper notice.”

“We're looking at a process that seems to value expediency at the expense of transparency,” said State Rep. Pat Fallon of District 106.

But there’s a new wrinkle in this tug-of-war between a city, its residents, and the energy provider. A piece of land initially thought to be off the table may re-enter into discussions.

“The City of Frisco is attempting to negotiate with USACE (Army Corps of Engineers). Depending on the outcome of these negotiations, Brazos Electric will study and add any viable option that becomes available,” said Richard Chambers of Brazos Electric, one of the state's largest generation and transmission cooperatives.

The Public Utilities Comission (PUC) has to ultimately approve the project. An agency representative, Terry Hadley, said the commission gets several dozen applications a year.

“The job of the PUC is to balance the concerns and end up with a route that involves a lot of compromise,” Hadley said.

Brazos Electric is proposing a 138 kilovolt double-circuit line either on Stonebrook Parkway or Main Street in Frisco, which would stretch two-to-four miles long. Chambers said the project would provide for increased capacity and better service for the city and its residents.

HOA leaders want the transmission lines re-drawn. They want to see if running the transmission lines underground is an option. Brazos has said from the start that buried lines would be too expensive.

State Rep Fallon said in the end, it's about convincing the PUC that homeowners don’t like the potential drop in home prices or the often-disputed health risks.

“If they get eight letters, that speaks with a whisper. If they get 80 letters, a little bit better," Fallon said. "But if they get 800 or 8,000, I think that is going to hold heavy weight."

The PUC said adjustments to routes have been made before. Hadley said commissioners could take up to a year before deciding whether new power lines go up in Frisco.

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com

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