Pearland homeowners say they were blindsided with CenterPoint’s massive tower upgrade

PEARLAND, Texas – Some residents in the Silverlake subdivision are less than excited about a large transmission upgrade project by CenterPoint that took some of them by surprise.

Residents say large 115-foot towers were abruptly erected just feet away from their homes, and now many residents are worried about the aftermath.

"This is our road. One way in, one way out," said Nancy Peskin, while walking down her small street in Pearland.

She lives just two doors down from the newly upgraded tower.

Peskin and her husband had moved into the Silverlake subdivision more than a decade ago, hoping to one day use this investment to retire.

"Lickety split, without notice, all of a sudden 115-foot steel towers are erected, and these are two doors down from us," Peskin said.

CenterPoint said the towers were part of a partial rebuild of an existing 138 kV transmission line on an existing transmission easement. The company said the structures are being upgraded to the latest hurricane wind standards on new steel structures as part of a Public Utility Commission (PUC) system hardening initiative.

"The wires went up two weeks ago," Peskin said.

It is part of a 14-mile transmission upgrade from Pearland to Friendswood.

"We're very angry because this was done covert -- without any notice. They're treating us like victims," Peskin said.

CenterPoint stated:

"CenterPoint Energy has had an easement over this property and the necessary facilities since 1953. Since all construction is within our existing 80-foot transmission easement and no new right-of-way was required, the PUC does not require customer notice. Though the PUC did not require us to notify customers in this particular case, we always strive to be a good neighbor and met with area residents late last year and continue to engage in dialogue with them. We are not aware of any property devaluation issues independently of residents bringing their concerns to our attention."

CenterPoint clarified that they met with residents in December and that construction for the towers started in May 2018.

"In May, I just noticed some gentlemen working out here and before we knew it they were erecting a huge tower," Dean Zebak, who lives directly next to a tower, said.

The tower is just feet away from the right side of his home.

"Our daughter sleeps on this side of the house just right here," Zebak said.

Zebak has had many concerns, living next to power lines for 18 years.

"I've actually had cancer, including lymphoma, and some studies have shown that living next to power lines can definitely cause certain types of cancer, including lymphoma," Zebak said.

CenterPoint's website states:

"The issue of possible health effects from EMF has been the subject of much study and debate. Over the last 30 years, many studies on EMF have been performed throughout the world, and numerous scientific organizations have reviewed the EMF research. Some studies have found an association between exposure to magnetic fields and certain types of cancer, but other studies have not. Further, studies have not shown a causal relationship between EMF and cancer or other diseases. EMF exposure is a complicated issue, and scientists continue to study it."

More information about EMF

CenterPoint representatives said that the transmission lines were already in place and that this was just an upgrade. Representatives also maintained that the company did nothing wrong.

"This line is also integral to supporting the continued electrical load growth in the area," a representative with CenterPoint said.

However, the residents said that the electricity coming from the tower just feet away from their homes doesn't even go to their neighborhood. They also claimed that CenterPoint has tried to find a loophole out of dealing with residents.

Peskin said $50 million is "the financial threshold that you have to formally notify (neighbors). Our particular project was cut out of a larger one and it's $20 million."

"They've crossed their 'T's' and dotted their 'I's,' but again, it's (more about) the wisdom of doing a project like this where you're not notifying the homeowners," Peskin said.

Neighbors said the homeowners will ultimately be left holding the bag.

"We've had people trying to sell their homes in this neighborhood and cannot now because their home is right next to a tower," Peskin said.

Neighbors said while the towers are being upgraded to the latest hurricane wind standards, if a really strong storm comes by, they're worried that the towers will fall on homes.

“You pull up into the house, and you have this massive thing staring at you, and it’s not good,” Zebak said.