Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC filed an application at the Texas PUC for approval of a new 345 kV transmission line (initially operated at 138-kV) approximately 31 miles long to be located within Loving, Reeves and Ward Counties, Texas. The proposed project would connect the proposed Riverton Switching Station, located in Reeves County approximately 3 miles southeast of the community of Orla, to the proposed Sand Lake Switching Station, to be located in Ward County approximately 6 miles northeast of the City of Pecos. Oncor states the routes generally run parallel to the Pecos River in the Southern High Plains. Much of the land use in the area is farming, ranching, and mineral production.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas will consider the application in Docket No. 47368. Not all landowners who receive notice will be affected by the proposed transmission line. Click here to view or download the application and other filings in the docket.
Oncor proposes to build the transmission line using double-circuit 345-kV lattice transmission structures, but initially will install only one circuit that it will operate at 138-kV. Oncor expects the typical structure height to be 125 feet.
Oncor’s application states the proposed right-of-way for the project will be 125 feet wide.
The PUC’s rules require the Commission to approve or reject the application one year from the filing date of July 21, 2017. Oncor estimates right-of-way land acquisition will start in August 2018. Oncor estimates construction will begin in April 2019. The facilities will be energized in December 2019.
Oncor states completion of the project will achieve system upgrades that are necessary to serve existing customers and for future load growth Oncor projects in the Permian Basin, while adding capacity to the entire transmission system. The company also claims completion of the proposed project will help ensure continued reliable electric service to the entire local region.
Oncor proposes to build the project to 345-kV standards to meet expected long-term growth in the area. To meet those future needs, Oncor will work with American Electric Power to bring 345-kV service to the area.
Oncor and AEP submitted a separate proposal to ERCOT for that project, referred to as the Far West Project. More information about ERCOT’s review of the Far West Project is available here. Although the two projects are separate, ERCOT recommended the proposed Riverton-Sand Lake project be built to 345-kV construction standards to find synergies between the two projects and to provide a future upgrade path for the area.
Halff Associates, Inc. Routing Study
Oncor retained Halff Associates, Inc. to prepare an environmental assessment and alternative routing analysis (EA) included as part of the application. The EA presents the analysis Halff conducted and the land use and environmental data for all the alternative routes considered for the project.
Identification of the route Oncor finds best meets the Commission’s routing criteria
After evaluating the routes, Oncor selected Route 56 as the route that best meets the PUC’s routing criteria. According to Oncor’s application, the estimated total transmission line cost for Route 56 is $47.5 million and Oncor projects the cost of substation facilities at $8.8 million, for an estimated total Route 56 project cost of about $56.2 million. The total estimated project cost is between $56,233,000 and $64,508,000, depending on the route the PUC approves.
Will the PUC approve Route 56?
The PUC decides which route to use for the transmission line and Oncor identified 23 alternative routes for the PUC’s consideration. The Commission may or may not approve Route 56. 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 will 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 September 5, 2017.
Transmission Line Lawyer Brad Bayliff
For more information about the author of this post, transmission line lawyer Brad Bayliff, please click here.