The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) earlier this month told American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) that the Jan. 6 application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for AEP Ohio Transmission’s proposed Biers Run-Hopetown-Delano 138-kV transmission line project is in compliance.
That is, board staff has received sufficient information to continue its review of the application. The board also said that during the course of its investigation, staff may request additional information to ensure a full and fair assessment of the project.
In its application, prepared by URS Corporation for AEP Ohio Transmission, the company said that the new line, to be built in Ross County, Ohio, will extend from the proposed Biers Run station to the existing Delano station. It will pass through Hopetown station, a proposed distribution station that will replace the existing Camp Sherman station. The preliminary Hopetown station site is about 5.2 miles southeast of the Biers Run station site. The Delano station is about 3.6 miles to the northeast of the Hopetown station site.
The company also said that single-circuit construction is predominantly proposed for the new 138-kV line, although short sections of double-circuit construction may be necessary depending on which route is chosen.
“AEP has a critical need to reinforce its transmission system to maintain and improve the quality and reliability of electric service in south central Ohio,” the company said. “AEP studies indicate that without this reinforcement plan, the performance of the company’s transmission system will be inadequate to provide the level of service that its customers expect. Without this electric transmission line, in a worst-case scenario, uncontrolled widespread power outages affecting major portions of south central Ohio may materialize.”
AEP plans to begin construction of the line in the spring or summer of 2015, with an estimated in-service date around the fall of 2016.
AEP is also proposing to install a 138-kV line from the Biers Run station to the Circleville station (OPSB Case Number 13-430-EL-BTX). While the projects are distinct and separate endeavors, route alternatives must be done concurrently to avoid major area reliability concerns if the two proposed circuits overlap. In fact, the company added, siting the two lines too close to one another does not alleviate the reliability concerns associated with the current electric transmission system in south central Ohio. Therefore, completely independent evaluations of the projects were avoided to minimize reliability concerns for the area.
The Circleville/Chillicothe load area of the transmission system provides service to about 200 MW of peak summer electric demand, and helps support other neighboring transmission systems. That load area is served primarily by three 138-kV lines originating from the Columbus, Waverly and Athens areas, the company added, noting that loss of any two of those lines can result in system criteria violations for the area.
The results of a route selection study suggested that Route A-F-E’-G-H and Route A-B-C-D-E-E’-G-H/E’-F were the best candidates to become the preferred and alternate routes, respectively. Those routes go south and north of the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Area of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).
After a public meeting last May, AEP and its consultants met with property owners along those two routes and conducted ecological and cultural resources surveys to assess potential impacts. Ultimately, a revised Route A-F-E’-G-H was chosen as the preferred route and a revised Route A-B-C-D-E-E’-G-H/E’-F was selected as the alternate route. The company added that the preferred route has fewer difficult construction spots, allows for a solely single circuit to increase reliability and reduces overall impacts to wetlands, streams and cultural resources.
The preferred route begins at the proposed Biers Run station and crosses a short section of the overall station property. The first 0.2 mile of this route as it exits the station is shared by the alternate route. The preferred route then heads south-southeast parallel to the eastern side of the Don Marquis-Bixby 345-kV line for 1.2 miles. The route then heads generally southeast for 3.3 miles across mostly agricultural fields making several turns to avoid woodlots, residences and a significantly prehistoric archaeological site.
The company also said that the route then generally parallels Veterans Parkway and Pleasant Valley Road, heading east for about 1.4 miles, then crosses U.S. 35 and continues generally east for an additional 1.1 miles, avoiding Union Scioto Schools, crossing Chillicothe Correctional Institute property, and entering the proposed Hopetown distribution substation at the corner of State Route 104 and Moundsville Road.
From the proposed Hopetown distribution substation, the preferred route is the same as the alternate route and heads north for 2.1 miles parallel to State Route 104 and within the current right-of-way (ROW) of the Camp Sherman-Circleville 69-kV line, which will be removed before construction of this portion of the Biers Run-Hopetown-Delano 138-kV line. The route then turns generally east and northeast parallel to State Route 207 for 2.5 miles. The company also said that the route then crosses a U.S. 23 interchange, extending east and then south across agricultural fields for the final 1.2 miles into Delano station.
The total length of the preferred route is 12.8 miles and would be built entirely as a single circuit.
About 227 residences were identified within 1,000 feet of the preferred route, three of which are within 100 feet. The company also said that about 55% of the preferred route and 53% of the alternate route cross agricultural fields. Three schools were identified within 1,000 feet of the preferred route, none of which are within 100 feet. The company further noted that 100 previously recorded archaeological sites were identified within 1,000 feet of the preferred route, 16 of which are within 100 feet.
Among other things, AEP said that the proposed project is necessary to improve and maintain the quality of electric service to the Chillicothe area and that by improving the transmission system, the project will help meet the power requirements necessary to ensure continued business development and growth in the area. Furthermore, the project will produce additional tax revenue for local schools and communities, the company said, adding that it projects that the new line will contribute about $550,000 in property taxes to Ross County and the local community over the first year after the project is complete.