Texas utility commission approves Sharyland’s Midkiff-to-Driver line

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) gave its final approval on Nov. 14 to Sharyland Utilities to construct the Midkiff-to-Driver transmission line with a last-minute change to PUCT staff’s original preferred route recommendation.

In late October, PUCT staff recommended the project for approval with a preferred 7.4-mile, $13.8m route that was agreed upon by parties to the application. Subsequently, Sharyland came to an agreement on a longer, more expensive route alternative with landowners given intervener status to the proceedings in mid-October.

The final preferred route is 8.08 miles long and will cost $14.3m.

Although the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department supported the original route recommendation as the best alternative for minimizing adverse impacts to natural resources, the agency approved the route change without comment.

As part of the project, Sharyland will build two single-circuit lines to provide a loop connection between the existing 1956-to-Midkiff transmission line and the proposed Driver substation in Midland County, Texas.

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. Sharyland proposed the loop project in August to accommodate growth, ensure system reliability, and comply with a PUCT order limiting the company’s Southwest Power Pool (SPP) load.

Sharyland provides energy services in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas region, and the company acquired facilities in the SPP region as part of its 2010 purchase of Cap Rock Energy.

PUCT’s approval of the transaction required that Sharyland limit its SPP load to 150 MW.

Sharyland expects to complete construction of the project in February 2013.