Last week the Texas PUC approved routes for the northwesternmost link in the CREZ transmission expansion, choosing one of the longest of several possible transmission routes in order to avoid crossing parts of Palo Duro canyon. The canyon is the nation’s second longest and includes a state park. None of the routes would have crossed the state park, but some proposed lines may have been visible from locations within the state park. Property owners in the north end of the canyon campaigned against routes that would have crossed their land. The longer route is estimated to cost $34 million more than the cheapest route, with downstate electric power consumers paying the bill.
Of course even if transmission owners relied on economic incentives to gain consent of landowners, rather than backstopping the regulatory route selection process with implicit threat of eminent domain, it seems likely that landowners in the north canyon would have refused. But the process might have been much less controversial and the final route may have been cheaper than the one selected.