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CREZ Project Wins Unanimous Approval at PUC hearing

The Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved a controversial project to construct new power lines in the counties in the area around Hillsboro over the objections of numerous landowners from the area and several local elected officials.

The 3-0 vote came late yesterday afternoon after testimony from people likely to be affected by the $170 million project and a lengthy discussion among the three commissioners.

PUC Chairman Barry Smitherman announced to the room that he knew, “this is going to disappoint a lot of you, but I’m going to follow the ALJ’s (administrative law judge’s) recommendations.”

Most of the testimony revolved around the recommendations of the judges who presided over the detailed hearing on various possible routes for the segment of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones, or CREZ, that would extend to several counties, including Hill, Bosque, Navarro, Shackelford and Scurry.

Commissioner Donna Nelson explained that the panel is tasked with balancing a wide range of competing interests to ensure that the state has the power it needs to keep up with ever-growing demand. and went on to note that everybody wants electricity, but nobody wants transmission lines.

The hearing room, along with two overflow rooms, was packed with people who came to Austin from the area where the power lines are planned.  To view the archived video of the hearing, click here.