Texas agency prefers southern routes for Valliant-to-Northwest Texarkana line

The northern route alternatives suggested by Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) for the Valliant-to-Northwest Texarkana project would degrade a sensitive and increasingly rare local natural resource, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) routing recommendations for the project.

The recommendations TPWD issued on Nov. 7 for the proposed transmission line were based on a review of the project’s environmental assessment (EA) and alternative route analysis.

All of the northern alternatives for the proposed double-circuit 345-kV line rely on one link that crosses the Black Bottom Creek hardwood wetland complex in Bowie County, Texas.

“The landscape of northern Bowie County has become increasingly developed,” TPWD said in its recommendation. “Farming and cattle grazing operations and mature bottomland hardwood forests, as well as upland hardwood forests, are becoming uncommon on the landscape.”

TPWD preferred two southern route alternatives that would avoid the wetland complex entirely.

SWEPCO preferred in its original application one of the northern routes based on an independent review of regulatory and environmental considerations.

In its recommendation, TPWD suggested that, if a southern route was not feasible, SWEPCO make segment adjustments to circumvent Black Bottom Creek in an upland area.

The approximately 75-mile Valliant-to-Northwest Texarkana project would run from SWEPCO’s Northwest Texarkana substation near Red Lick, Texas, to the Valliant substation near Millerton, Okla. The Valliant substation is owned by Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO).

SWEPCO and PSO are wholly owned operating companies of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP).

The recommendations from the TPWD apply to the Texas portion of the proposed line – estimated at 40 miles.

The Valliant-to-Northwest Texarkana project is one of several transmission lines that were identified by the Southwest Power Pool as necessary to improve reliability and allow efficient integration of clean energy resources. The total project cost is estimated at $128m, and SWEPCO expects to place the line in service by May 2015.