Many of the commenters that submitted comments this summer in PUC Docket Nos. 37049 and 37051 received personal replies from PUC Chairman Smitherman. As discussed in previous entries, Chairman Smitherman has revised his letter over the past few months, starting with a traditional “Thanks for writing, I’m filing your comments in the appropriate comments docket” letter. He later revised his letters to include personal recollection of his family’s ranch in the Hill Country and his priorities for review of CCN applications, and sent some letters referring to the benefit of wind energy in light of Washington’s expected global warming legislation. Some letters also referenced the transmission congestion and high costs being experienced in Houston and South Texas.
The Commission’s recent responses to political entities, associations, and people referred by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office have been signed by either all three commissioners or a PUC legislative assistant, are very short, and filed by the Commission’s Governmental Relations office. The new letters thank the author for their correspondence and state that a copy of the correspondence has been filed in a comments docket. The author is directed to send all future correspondence to Central Records instead of the Commissioners and directions are provided on obtaining filings in the docket.
It appears that individual letters to Chairman Smitherman are continuing to receive a current form response from the Chairman. In a letter to Hill Country landowners, Chairman Smitherman now refers to the PUC’s approval of LCRA’s request to study additional routes and routing concepts. He says that LCRA indicated that the scope of the new review would include a study area approximately double the size so the original study area. The Chairman then states that he is hopeful that LCRA will develop new routes that will help address citizens’ concerns.