Sharyland’s 1956-Midkiff loop recommended for approval

A new transmission line loop proposed by Sharyland Utilities that extends from the company’s existing 1956-to-Midkiff line received recommendation for approval on Oct. 22 from the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT).

Based on the input of Michael Lee of the PUCT’s Reliability and Infrastructure Division, PUCT staff conditioned its recommendation for approval of the 1956-Midkiff to Driver 138-kV transmission line on Sharyland meeting commission reporting requirements and following Lee’s proposed project mitigation measures.

PUCT also supported Lee’s recommendation to approve Sharyland’s proposed Route 1 alternative as the “shortest and least costly option.”

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) supported Route 1 in its recommendations to the PUCT submitted on Oct. 16 in follow up to TPWD’s review of the project environmental assessment (EA) and alternative route analysis prepared by Power Engineers for Sharyland.

The proposal includes construction of two single-circuit lines to provide a loop connection between the existing 1956-to-Midkiff line and a proposed Driver substation in Midland County, Texas.

The total length of the project from the 1956-Midkiff line to the new substation and back would be between about 7.5 and 9.5 miles, depending on the alternative route.

Power Engineers evaluated seven alternative project routes that were made up of 26 segments. Both Sharyland and Power Engineers recommended Route 1, which includes five distinct segments, as the route that best satisfies Public Utility Regulatory Act and PUCT routing criteria.

TPWD recommended that the PUCT “select a route that would minimize adverse impacts to natural resources, such as Route 1.”

The routing recommendation was based on information provided in the application and EA, but TPWD cautioned that the EA did not provide sufficient evidence to determine which route would be the least harmful to rare and protected species.

“Route 1 would avoid crossing playa lakes, is the shortest route, and would cross the shortest distance through rangeland,” TPWD said. “Of the routes evaluated in the EA, Route 1 appears to best minimize adverse impacts to natural resources.”

Lee’s recommendations for project mitigation included limited use of herbicides, limited disruption of flora and fauna during construction, implementation of erosion control measures, and cooperation with landowners to make minor, as-needed deviations to the route.

Sharyland proposed the loop project in August to accommodate load growth, ensure system reliability, and comply with a PUCT order requiring the company limit its Southwest Power Pool load to 150 MW. The project, according to the company, is located in an area that has rapid load growth, primarily attributable to oil and gas load, and existing facilities that are at or near capacity.

The estimated completion date for construction of the project is February 2013.