AEP Texas filed an application at the Public Utility Commission of Texas for approval of a new 138-kV transmission line. The project would connect the AEP Texas Solstice Substation to the Roserock Point of Interconnection in Pecos County. The PUC will consider the application in Docket No. 47187. Click here to view or download the application and other filings in the docket.
The project will provide transmission service for the new RE Roserock, LLC solar farm. The AEP Texas Solstice Substation is under construction for other additional needs in the area. The PUC will approve the Roserock POI location. The length of the proposed transmission line will be between 4.44 and 5.07 miles, depending on the route the PUC approves. During the development and evaluation of the preliminary routing links, AEP Texas determined there are fewer than 25 landowners entitled to receive direct mail notice of the application.
AEP Texas proposes to build the transmission line using single-pole steel structures. The typical height will be 80-100 feet. The application states AEP Texas typically uses single-pole structures for 138 kV transmission line construction. Landowners overwhelmingly prefer single-pole construction from an aesthetic perspective and because the smaller footprint reduces the impact on their property as compared to a lattice or H-frame structure construction. Single-pole structures can be constructed more efficiently and expediently than lattice or H-frame structures for a 138-kV transmission line, and at a comparable or lower cost.
The AEP Texas application states the typical right-of-way for the project will be 100 feet wide.
The PUC’s rules require the Commission to approve or reject the application one year from the filing date of July 11, 2017. AEP Texas estimates right-of-way land acquisition will start in July 2018. AEP Texas estimates construction will begin in February 2019. The facilities will be energized in August 2019.
The project will provide a permanent interconnection for the Roserock 157.5 MW solar farm to the transmission network.
The application states the ERCOT Regional Planning Group (RPG) Charter and Procedures defines a project that is directly associated with the interconnection of new generation as a “neutral project,” which is not required to be submitted for RPG review. Therefore, there was no ERCOT review.
AECOM Routing Study
AEP Texas’ routing consultant, AECOM, prepared an environmental assessment (EA) and routing study that is included in the application. The EA presents the analysis AECOM conducted and the land use and environmental data for all of the routes considered for the project.
Route AEP Texas recommends best meets the Commission’s routing criteria
AEP Texas considered the certification criteria in PURA and the PUC’s Substantive Rules, and the environmental and land use recommendation of AECOM. AEP Texas also evaluated each primary alternative route from an engineering, design, construction, operations, and maintenance perspective, considered the estimated cost for each of the primary alternative routes, and the public input from discussions with impacted landowners. AEP Texas has determined that Route 2 provides the best balance of routing characteristics and best addresses the requirements of PURA and PUC Substantive Rules.
Will the PUC approve Route 2?
The PUC decides which route to use for the transmission line and AEP Texas identified alternative routes for the PUC’s consideration. The Commission may or may not approve Route 2. The Commission can approve any proposed route or any combination of properly-noticed proposed segments.
What can a landowner do?
The only way to fully participate in the PUC’s decision on where to locate the transmission line is to intervene. The notice materials landowners receive include a brochure from the PUC that discusses how to intervene. The brochure also is available here. Landowners who intervene may provide information the Commission needs to reach a final decision.
The PUC’s notice of the application states the deadline to intervene in the docket is August 25, 2017.
Transmission Line Lawyer Brad Bayliff
For more information about the author of this post, transmission line lawyer Brad Bayliff, please click here.