Central Texas counties poised for growth along Texas 130 corridor

Kathy Warbelow, former business editor at the Austin American-Statesman.

By Kathy Warbelow

For more than three decades, in a career spanning government, energy and public affairs, Mark Rose has seen Central Texas grow in almost every direction.

Now the Bluebonnet general manager is a key participant as the next phase unfolds: development along the Texas 130 corridor, where the co-op is one of the primary providers of power.

“In the late 1980s and ‘90s, growth in Central Texas spread west to the Hill Country, north to Williamson County and south along Interstate 35,” Rose said. “There’s no place for growth to go now except east. But it takes infrastructure – like Texas 130 – to make it happen.” 

The last section of the toll road, from Mustang Ridge to Seguin, opens in November. That means drivers will be able to travel 91 miles, from Georgetown to Seguin, without a single stoplight or rush-hour traffic jam.

“The toll road will open up areas for development in Bastrop and Caldwell counties,” Rose said.There are no regulatory issues, like there are in the Hill Country; there’s access to roadways and airports, and there’s available water. . .

“The focus now needs to be on regional coordination so our area can grow smartly, in a way that promotes sustainable development.”

Bluebonnet has a big role in all of it.

“As the electric provider for most of the 130 corridor, with the exception of a few stretches in Travis County served by Austin Energy, Bluebonnet is the common thread for the developers and communities,” Rose said.We are committed to promoting sustainable growth. That might be by encouraging commercial, residential and mixed-use developments to build extremely energy- and water-efficient homes. They might put in solar or wind generation to reduce the need for fossil fuel generation, possibly even generating enough for Bluebonnet to purchase and distribute through our grid.”

Bluebonnet members already have the Net Energy Market, a web portal that lets them monitor their energy use by the day or hour, see how much they’re spending and get advice on how to manage their power consumption.

The online tool has been available for residential customers since 2010. A version for large industrial customers went live in February.

No other Texas utility has anything like it, and it could be attractive to companies scoping out potential locations in Central Texas.

“Bluebonnet’s technology is what sets us apart from other utilities. It’s what puts us in a great position to meet the challenges of a growing population that will demand more and better services from their electric provider,” Rose said.

Kathy Warbelow is a guest contributor to The Bluebonnet Blog. She’s lived in Austin since 1996 and was the business editor at the Austin American-Statesman for 10 years.

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About Will Holford

Have you ever wondered about the future of electric use? Perhaps you’re curious about how some global or national events might impact your power, the environment or your bill? Maybe you’re just interested in what’s going on at Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative. We want to share what we know, and that’s what the Bluebonnet Blog is about. Will Holford, Bluebonnet’s Manager of Public Affairs, is going to write most often for the blog. He’s been with the co-op since 2007, and has worked in communications for more than 14 years. Will enjoys learning about energy – and writing about it. He and other Bluebonnet employees (and occasional guest contributors) will get the conversation going -- about everything from where your power is generated to where it’s used, advances in technology, changes that will affect you, and interesting peeks behind the scenes at the co-op. We welcome your comments, questions and ideas. Email Will at will.holford@bluebonnet.coop.
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