EDITOR’S NOTE: We reached out to Steve Wecks following his thoughtful responses to the mis-information on social media threads about the TPUD’s Tillamook-Oceanside Transmission line and asked him to provide this op/ed. As the Pioneer has reported, this process has been decades in the planning, and all the details are available on TPUD’s website (links to stories, additional information below.) It’s as simple as “you can’t believe everything you read on the internet.” But – it’s actually very complicated. TPUD has been transparent throughout the process. The board voted to approve proceeding with negotiations with property owners for easements and right-of-ways. The rhetoric has been about “eminent domain” – the taking of land – but that’s not been considered yet – false, misleading information. The landowners will keep their land, and be offered compensation for lines going over their property and/or poles located on their property. At the TPUD workshop and board meeting last week, a “truck rally” protest circled the area around the location of the meeting, Tillamook Bay Community College, disrupting classes and negatively impacting many in the community with air horns and more. From the outcome of the meeting and comments from community members, the truck rally protest backfired, and the TPUD transmission line will move forward.
By Steve Wecks,
A Concerned Private Citizen and TPUD Customer
I am not in anyway associated with TPUD beyond being a customer
I do not know any of the TPUD board or employees
I am not associated with the group We The People
No one put me up to this and I don’t have any business or investments which stand to profit from it.
The planning process for the transmission lines to Oceanside has been a long and arduous one. It has all been done in the open, with public input throughout the process. All of it is available online for anyone to see. None of it is secret.
It has been done by “We the People”. We elected the TPUD representatives to do the hard, incredibly complicated work of figuring out how to best serve the electrical infrastructure needs of Tillamook County. “We the People” demanded long ago that the process be done by people we elect. “We the People” demanded that the process be done in a transparent way so that there couldn’t be any back door deals or profit motive. “We the People” demanded that we have the right to publicly question and appeal the plans. “We the People” demanded the check of a State board (the Oregon Public Utilities Commission) to hold our locally elected PUD officials accountable for using good science and keeping our best interests at heart.
All of those checks that “We the People” have put in place to protect our interests have been meticulously used and followed. No one can point to where they have not been. That is why the process of building these transmission lines has taken a decade when it could have taken a few years.
Most of us don’t pay attention to such protracted, difficult, detailed processes. That is why we elect people to represent us – to do the laborious work of evaluating complex issues and then make difficult decisions, with public input, about how to address them. Decisions which invariably don’t please everyone.
If you are only now becoming aware of what is going on because of the loud, insistent voices of some please don’t believe the lie that it was somehow done secretly or dishonestly. Whatever their motive, these voices are using disinformation, hyperbole and innuendo to make an emotional appeal and undermine the processes “We the People” put in place.
It’s all in the public record:
– All the options were carefully considered and publicly addressed by those with no vested interest beyond trying to figure out the best thing to do for the community.
– All those opposed were given ample opportunity to present the data and reasoning behind their opposition and to have it publicly reviewed by TPUD and the Public Utilities Commission.
– No one’s land is being taken, no one will lose the existing use of their land, home or farm. Transmission line poles will occupy a very small footprint. Eminent Domain is being used in this case to create an easement corridor for the lines to pass over, with poles usually very far apart. Of course no one wants this to happen to their property. The reality is that it is sometimes necessary and is the only reason that we have the reliable power we do today.
Some opponents are using small snippets of information which are easily distorted when taken out of their larger context, the context of a sound plan created by experts in their fields and thoroughly vetted and reviewed in public by those tasked with protecting the public’s interests. It is far easier to stir up an emotional response to the use of eminent domain using distortions than it is to stir up a passion for sound, responsible, accountable, informed infrastructure planning.
Don’t believe the exaggeration and disinformation being thrown at you. Don’t let the processes “We the People” put in place for our own good be undermined by the loud insistent voices of a few or the ill-informed members of the public they stir up.