Ohio regulators extend time for AMP to build 345-kV transmission project

The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) on Sept. 30 granted American Municipal Power (AMP) an 18-month extension of time to complete the five-mile, 345-kV transmission line needed to connect an approved generating facility that will connect to the regional power grid (Case No. 06-1357-EL-BTX).

Regulators issued a certificate for the construction of a 960 MW coal-fired generating station at Letart Falls in Meigs County, Ohio, on March 3, 2008, and a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need (CECPN) for the double-circuit transmission line on Nov. 24, 2008. However, AMP experienced delays in the development of the generating project as a result of an unexpected increase of approximately 37% percent in the engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) contractor’s indicative capital costs for the generating project, among other reasons, and requested an 18-month extension of the certificate for the generating station. That extension was granted on Dec. 17, 2012.

Subsequently, AMP’s board of directors decided to terminate the EPC contractor, emission control and other equipment vendors on EPC construction and equipment, and to pursue other alternatives, “including conversion to a natural gas combined cycle at the site, the best economic alternative for AMP and the [generating station] participants at that time,” the company said.

AMP also identified other options, including the acquisition of the Fremont Energy Center, a 707 MW, natural gas combined-cycle generating plant in 2011. The purchase of such a facility “provide[d] a cost-effective, environmentally friendly, asset-based alternative to wholesale energy and capacity markets,” the company said. The purchase of a facility that was largely complete also mitigated the construction and permitting risks of building a new, greenfield facility.

Despite the Fremont acquisition, AMP has “actively maintained and prudently pursued continuous development of potential electric generation at the Meigs County site,” it said. Development of the transmission line must therefore continue as well, and AMP requested an extension of the CECPN expiration date to May 24, 2015.

In its motion to extend the expiration date for the transmission line’s certificate, AMP noted that the line is not needed to relieve current or future reliability issues on the electric grid but is proposed as an integral part of the generating station. Without the double-circuit 345-kV transmission line, the new generating station will be unable to deliver its generation output to the regional transmission grid, the company said.