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Power lines during Sunset. Photo courtesy of Colorado Wire and Cable.

Eighteen months ago, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA announced plans to connect electrical substations from Zorn to Marion with new transmission lines. The final version of the project, which was presented in late September of this year, has received approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) and details the construction of a 345-kilovolt transmission line to be completed May 2019. The purpose of the project is to boost electricity volume to CPS Energy and San Antonio, and to meet Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) requirements for a 345-kV line by 2019 to prevent existing circuit overload. The line will be 21 miles long, and run through Precincts 2 and 4 of Guadalupe County, Texas. County Commissioner Jack Shanafelt explained: “This is what it boils down to – they’re abandoning the power plant south of San Antonio,” he said. “When that happens, LCRA needs to bring more electricity to CPS and San Antonio and actually, the corridor, the Austin-San Antonio corridor.”

The LCRA has asserted that the current transmissions cannot adequately meet future supply, and that this new line is necessary to meet projections for future electricity demand.

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“The demand in this area has been growing, and that growth is expected to continue,” said LCRA public information officer Clara Tuma. “Electric system planning assessments indicate existing transmission lines are not adequate to meet the future demand for electricity, so the additional 345-kV infrastructure is required to serve the future demand for Guadalupe, Bexar, Comal and Kendall counties in a safe and reliable manner. The ERCOT Board of Directors endorsed this project and deemed the Zorn-to-Marion 345kV transmission line critical to the reliability of the electrical grid.”

Citing safety concerns, residents of the city of Marion have requested that the line placement avoid residential areas. LCRA has agreed to work with landowners to incorporate minor route adjustments. Although the LCRA will attempt to acquire all the necessary easements by bona fide offers to landowners without the use of eminent domain, landowners that remain unsatisfied with these offers will likely have to defend themselves in condemnation proceedings.