Gainesville Daily Register
By GREG RUSSELL and DELANIA TRIGG
Register Staff Writers
Rural county residents may take notice of transmission line tower construction now underway in selected areas by the Oncor power company.
Known as the “Krum-to-Anna line,” the project belongs to a statewide power grid update mandated by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC). The line, in development for more than years, spans 42 miles and will stretch north of Krum to Highway 51, west of Valley View to Spring Creek Road and then east to Grayson County in the range of Lake Kiowa. The update is a $5 billion “competitive renewable energy” initative ordered by the Texas Legislature and designed to garner additional wind power from west Texas and Panhandle regions.
The “Krum-to-Anna line” is a route Oncor finally selected as the most ideal from some 100 options, as its presence was said to affect the fewest residents. Oncor representative Sabrina Easley said the project itself is not new and that construction began 22 months ago — but has now reached a phase of development more visible to residents outside city limits.
“Really, the public will not see any difference once the line has been completed and energized,” she said Friday. “Once the line is completed and energized, the cleanup crews will be back through.”
The current work is the erection of towers and “monopoles” ranging from 100 to 150 in height. Some 300 Oncor employees are at work on those units, Easley said, and are utilizing local hotels until finished, which should be by Dec. 30.
“It’s been really smooth,” she said. “Everything is going according to the expected timeframe and the PUC requires that the line is served by the end of this year, and we do not anticipate any problems in meeting that deadline.”
A Register story was released in March 2011, addressing the development of the Oncor line and some of the related controversy. In the story, Oncor spokeswoman Catherine Cuellar said the process of building new transmission lines is a complicated, multi-stage process which begins when a need for additional lines is identified. Planning the project usually takes several years. Once the need is identified, electric service delivery companies conduct project studies and route analysises.
Finding an appropriate route often involves isolating several potential routes, Cueller said. She added that in the case of the Krum-Anna project, PUC officials weighed options.
“The PUC considers a slew of factors in choosing the route that will ultimately be built including the cost and distance the lines will travel,” she said, adding that the PUC also takes into consideration the structures and sites already on the property. “They look at things like airports, archaeological sites, schools, parks and hospitals.”
Other factors include engineering constraints and paralleling of existing corridors. Once placement for the route was decided in 2011, the next steps included secure permission to survey the land along the route, and easement purchase negotiations went underway between Oncor and landowners.
Complaints about the Oncor project surfaced locally as early as July 2010. In a letter published in the Register that month, Sanger resident and business owner Jeffrey Lichtmann cited concern that the lines and towers could cause a number of problems for homeowners whose property falls within the construction area.
Lichtmann said one concern was that the transmission lines are a health hazard since they emit electromagnetic fields.
“There are valid studies that do show EMF emissions have harmful effects,” Lichtmann wrote in the letter, citing the website www.powerlinefacts.com as a source.
On Friday, Easley addressed that concern by citing Studies of the Earth’s Deep Interior (SEDI) test results indicating the contrary.
“The SEDI tests have been done showing no health effects,” she said. “And anyone who has any experience residing in Highland Park or in Dallas knows that, since the lines are just outside their back doors.”
For more information about the Krum-to-Anna project, call (214) 486-7343.