The Braun & Gresham Difference
If your land is threatened by incoming transmission lines, you need to speak with the attorneys at Braun & Gresham, PLLC today. The earlier you start in your fight to protect your land, the better your chances are for success. There are multiple opportunities to influence the process, but to have the greatest impact you must start the process early and with an experienced team of professionals.
Transmission Line “hearings” are full scale trials held in Austin, which means you not only need complete legal and expert support, you need a team located in Austin – a team that knows the law and knows the local players.
Braun & Gresham, PLLC is an Austin, Texas law firm that has always worked for the rural landowner. We know the ins and outs of eminent domain and condemnation and our approach to transmission line cases is dynamic and flexible. Having successfully represented clients for the past 2 years on Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) cases, we are one of the only law firms in Texas that has the expertise and background to help clients fight this new phase of transmission line routing and easements. Each route is different. Each community is different. Each client is different. We work with our clients to develop the most cost-effective strategy for their particular situation and budget.
“We appreciate the attorneys at Braun & Gresham being honest and upfront with our neighborhood in a very contentious and difficult utility case. They were a pleasure to work with, we truly felt we had the kindest and smartest attorneys and staff working with us! Our small community hired Braun & Gresham to prevent high transmission lines from cutting through our neighborhood and properties. [Attorney and Counselor] Patrick Reznik personally came to several HOA meetings and went through potential scenarios. [Paralegal] Audrey Banner was instrumental in organizing our documents and testimonies to ensure a timely filing. [Attorney and Counselor] Carly Barton expertly trained our property owners on how to testify and personally went with us as we presented our case to the Public Utilities Commission. We were constantly kept informed in each step of the process, with honest appraisals of our difficult situation. Patrick was a great liaison and helped align our neighborhood with other groups to strengthen our position. We are grateful that through their efforts, all of the routes that threatened our neighborhood were prevented and we were able to preserve the natural beauty for future generations to enjoy.” – Mike Stevens, President, Clearwater Ranch POA
“This is a trial process so there are a lot of rules, deadlines and paperwork that I just didnt have the time to mess with so it was great having [Braun & Gresham] as experts on this [transmission] case. I could have been on the moon!”
“Patrick got to know everybody we might have conflicts with or opposition from, and worked with them to see where we might share common ground and where we might gain more. And it worked!”
Learn about Transmission Line Phases
Routing Phase: Once a utility company's application is approved, multiple possible transmission line routes are mapped, an intervention deadline is set (usually only 4-6 weeks after application is approved), and landowners have until this date to intervene to influence the final route that will be chosen.
Condemnation Phase: Once all intervening parties have settled, a final transmission line route is chosen. At this time, the utility company will contact the affected landowners to begin surveying their land and give an offer for damages. The terms can be negotiable, which is why it is imperative to be represented by a knowledgeable firm like Braun & Gresham, if you want to influence the final easement size and monetary compensation.
Navigating the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Process Requires a Team of Knowledgeable Experts
Our preference is to start early and help our clients provide the most relevant and persuasive information to the utility during its planning work. Convincing the utility to recommend a preferred transmission line route somewhere other than our clients’ land is the first step toward a successful effort. This advocacy is informal, but relies on the same evidence that will be developed for the formal PUC hearing. The goal is to develop as much evidence as possible of engineering, legal and environmental obstacles to the route that affects our client, so the utility chooses a different route.
The formal PUC process is like a trial with many of the same rules and timelines. The most important factor is providing highly credible expert witnesses who have developed independent analysis and evidence. The attorneys present this evidence in legal filings and at the PUC hearing. Distilling this technical evidence into compelling testimony is first done in writing and then with the experts on the witness stand. The attorneys and experts must also rebut the testimony of other landowner/interveners who will have developed their own evidence.
In our experience, a team of attorneys and experts working closely together with the clients is the most effective way to organize for this phase of the process. Braun & Gresham, PLLC has worked with many different experts and will continue to work with any experts chosen by our clients. For the transmission lines we can recommend a winning team that has worked successfully together on other lines. This experienced team of consultants can partner with Braun & Gresham, PLLC and rapidly respond to looming deadlines.
When budgets allow, Braun & Gresham, PLLC recommends also organizing a political response to the routing decision. While there is no official weight given to such organizing, it is undoubtedly true that large groups of landowners backed by their elected officials have influenced otherwise very technical proceedings. The political pressure, if it is large enough, helps drive settlement discussions with the utility and tip the balance in close cases. Remember, all of the proposed alternatives are feasible routes, so choosing the path of least resistance can be a smart move by a utility. This level of organizing has the added benefit of spreading costs over many landowners whose interests are aligned.
Should the PUC’s final transmission line route affect a client’s land, there are still options for minimizing the impact and ensuring just compensation. Braun & Gresham, PLLC has been very successful in negotiating the details of routes across a client’s land to avoid crucial buildings and operations and to mitigate the worst of the visual and financial harm. And finally, during the condemnation process, the goal is to ensure that the utility pays for the entire financial loss suffered by the client. Once again, teaming with the best experts is the key to developing compelling appraisal evidence of all damages to the value of the property and not just accepting payment for acreage taken.
Active Transmission Line Cases
Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative (GVEC)
Delhi to Bluestem Transmission Line
Sam Houston Electric Cooperative (SHECO)
Fred Transmission Line
Rayburn Country Electric Cooperative
New Hope Transmission Line
Scenic Loop Transmission Line
Oncor Electric Deliver Company LLC and Lower Colorado River Authority Transmission Services Corp.
McCamey to Sand Land Transmission Line
AEP Texas, Electric Transmission Texas, and South Texas Electric Cooperative
RGV Transmission Improvement Project
Examples of Transmission Line Cases We’ve Worked On
PUC Docket No. 37408 Riley to Bowman, Oncor (Oncor)
PUC Docket No. 37464 Brown Newton, Oncor (Oncor)
PUC Docket No. 38140 Riley to Krum, Oncor (Oncor)
PUC Docket No. 38562 Riley-Clark, Electric Transmission Texas, LLC (ETT)
PUC Docket No. 38650 Gray to White Deer, Cross Texas Transmission (CTT)
PUC Docket No. 38677 Ector County to N. Moss, Oncor (Oncor)
PUC Docket No. 38877 TUCO to Oklaunion, Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS)
PUC Docket No. 39298 Odessa to North McCamey, South Texas Electric Cooperative (STEC)
PUC Docket No. 39524 Oklaunion-Fisher, Oncor (Oncor)
PUC Docket No. 40049 Springwoods Project, CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, LLC (CenterPoint)
PUC Docket No. 40319 Sandy Substation, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative (Brazos)
PUC Docket No. 40537 Gardendale to Grady, Sharyland Utilities L.P. (Sharyland)
PUC Docket No. 40550 Bowers to Howard, Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS)
PUC Docket No. 40684 EC Mornhinweg to Parkway, LCRA Transmission Services Corporation (LCRA)
PUC Docket No. 40728 Lobo to Rio Bravo to North Edinburg, Electric Transmission Texas, LLC (ETT)
PUC Docket No. 41718 Grimes to Ponderosa, Entergy Texas Inc. (ETI)
PUC Docket No. 41749 Oyster Creek, CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric, LLC (CenterPoint)
PUC Docket No. 41785 Tilden to Riveille, South Texas Electric Cooperative (STEC)
PUC Docket No. 42063 Antelope-Elk Energy Center to White River, Sharyland Utilities L.P. (Sharyland)
PUC Docket No. 42087 Hicks to Elizabeth Creek, Oncor
PUC Docket No. 42287 Gillett to Nopal, Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative (GVEC)
PUC Docket No. 42583 Permian Basin to Culberson, Oncor
PUC Docket No. 42729 Wolfforth to Carlisle, Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS)
PUC Docket No. 43599 Blumenthal, LCRA Transmission Services Corporation (LCRA)
PUC Docket No. 44672 New Bethel, Oncor
PUC Docket No. 44837 Tuleta to Coleto Creek, American Electric Power Company (AEP)
PUC Docket No. 43878 Parvin, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative
PUC Docket No. 44060 Stonebrook, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative
PUC Docket No. 45170 Oak Point, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative
PUC Docket No. 45247 Mustang Prairie to Weldon, Houston County Electric Cooperative
PUC Docket No. 45397 Sale Ranch to Natural Dam, Sharyland Electric
PUC Docket No. 45601 Zorn to Marion, LCRA Transmission Services Corporation
PUC Docket No. 45866 Leander to Round Rock, LCRA Transmission Services Corporation
PUC Docket No. 46042 Tuco to Yoakum, Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS)
Transmission Line Routing Success Stories
Patrick Reznik saves a beautiful country estate in a narrow, rapidly-developing peninsula from a 138-kV transmission line. By joining affected landowners together, pooling resources, and filing a collective intervention to protest undesirable routes Patrick was able to have the line re-routed, saving the McMeen's property.
Twenty years ago, the O'Connors received a late notification that AEP Texas, an energy giant, would be building a powerful 345-kV transmission line between Victoria and Corpus Christi. AEP's preferred route would slice through the western section of the O'Connor's prairie, causing significant habitat fragmentation for native wildlife. Patrick Reznik and legacy Texas landowners worked together to prevent a pristine, 500,000-acre coastal prairie and wildlife conservation area from becoming a power corridor.
The proposed route for a 345-kV high-power transmission line would clip the Matthews' land only twice, but the peaceful isolation they envisioned when they purchase the land and built their home would be ruined. Patrick Reznik's rare blend of eminent-domain expertise, jury-trial experience and client commitment helps landowners make the most of the worst luck.
When cattleman and fifth-generation Texas rancher, Whit Jones learned his family’s and many of his neighbors’ properties were in the proposed path of one of the largest transmission-line projects in the state, he wasted no time contacting Braun & Gresham for help. In this new firm success story, learn how Patrick Reznik, working with friends, foes & exceptional experts, helped a large group of landowners preserve more than 200,000 acres of South Texas’ largest legacy ranches.
As one of only a handful of firms equipped to lead clients whose land is threatened by CREZ transmission projects through the entire legal process, Braun & Gresham, PLLC finds teamwork is key to ensuring energy transmission lines don’t destroy property values.
In fighting transmission lines, landowners find success in numbers- just ask John Hawley and his wife who worked with Braun and Gresham, PLLC to form a coalition of neighboring landowners to keep CREZ transmission lines off of their Texas High Plains property. By working as a team, they were able to create a unified voice against the utility’s transmission project and ultimately redirect the line onto a different route.