The Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas said that a Feb. 12 notice approves the application of Lyntegar Electric Cooperative to amend a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for the North Lamesa 138-kV transmission line within Dawson County.
PUC staff recommends approval of the application, and consistent with Lyntegar’s recommendation for approval of the approximately 9.8-mile “Route 1,” staff recommends administrative approval of the application along Route 1, the PUC added in its notice of approval.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), in Feb. 3 comments filed with the PUC, recommended that the PUC select a route that would minimize adverse impacts to natural resources, such as Route 1, for Lyntegar’s new line.
Under ordering paragraphs in its notice, the PUC said that Lyntegar will use Route 1 as described in its application.
Lyntegar is proposing to build new 138-kV electrical transmission facilities using 477 MCM, 26/7 Strand, Hawk ACSR conductor for the transmission circuit, AC-64/528 OPGW for the shield wire, and 477 MCM, 18/1 Strand, Pelican ACSR for the underbuild distribution phases and neutral, the PUC said. The major components of the project are a transmission line, which will be designed and operated at 138 kV, and a new distribution substation. The PUC added that the project will be a radial tap from the existing West Lamesa substation to the proposed North Lamesa substation that will provide additional distribution capacity in the rapidly growing area north of Lamesa.
The PUC further noted that Route 1, which begins at a point near the existing West Lamesa substation and extends to the proposed North Lamesa substation, follows the alignment of an existing overhead distribution line for about 82% of its proposed length.
The PUC also said that the project will be financed entirely with internally generated funds. Lyntegar’s cost estimate for the project if the proposed Route 1 is used is about $4.7m for transmission facilities and about $1.8m for substation facilities, for a total estimated cost of about $6.6m. The proposed project, which should be energized this year, will use a 60-foot right of way, the PUC said.
Discussing need for the project, the PUC noted that Lyntegar is proposing to build the line to provide capacity for load growth and assure reliable electric service is maintained at an acceptable level for its members.
Additional capacity is needed to serve the growing load in the portion of Lyntegar’s territory that would be served by the proposed line, the PUC added.
A long range plan of Lyntegar’s system that Lyntegar completed in December 2011 found that the project is needed for reliability and load growth. The PUC added that the area around the proposed substation is experiencing growth due to oil exploration in the area, irrigation loads, as well as residential and ranching growth around Lamesa.
The North Lamesa substation is forecast to peak at 6.8 MW by 2020, the PUC said, noting that the capacity available to Lyntegar in the area is from an Oncor distribution line that already is at or near its maximum capacity during peak periods.
The capacity shortages cannot be addressed by modifications to the existing equipment, increasing the transformer size at the existing substations, or improvements to the distribution system, the PUC said.
The PUC also said that the project will have minimal impact on aesthetic values and minimal adverse impacts on community values, on recreation and park areas, as well as on historical values.
Regarding environmental impact, the PUC said that construction of the proposed line will not have a significant effect on the geologic or physiographic features of the area, and will proceed in such a manner as to have minimal impact on water resources within the transmission corridor. In addition, the proposed line will have minimal impact on prime farmland and will be limited to the physical occupation of small areas at or near the base of support structures.
No plants currently listed as threatened or endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or TPWD are listed as occurring in Dawson County, the PUC said, adding that no impacts to federal or state-listed threatened or endangered wildlife or aquatic species are anticipated.
Noting that the TPWD reported potential occurrences of the state-listed threatened Texas horned lizard, as well as the Ferruginous Hawk, the Western Burrowing Owl, the Black-tailed prairie dog, and the Swift fox in the project study area, the PUC said that any construction activities should avoid burrows, including prairie dog colonies and mammal burrows to avoid potential impacts to prairie dogs and the Swift fox.
Among other things, the PUC said that Lyntegar is to comply with certain measures to mitigate construction impacts, including that in the event that Lyntegar or its contractors encounter any artifacts or other cultural resources during project construction, work is to cease immediately in the vicinity of the resource and the discovery is to be reported to the Texas Historical Commission.