Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC), in its March 23 application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CCN) filed with the Arkansas Public Service Commission, said that it plans to build a new 161-kV tap switching station and a new 7.3-mile, 161-kV transmission line in Greene County, Ark., to serve AECC member Craighead Electric Cooperative Corporation (CECC).
The line would supply a new 161-13.2-kV distribution substation to be called the Gainesville 161-13.2-kV substation, which would be built by CECC and does not require a CCN.
AECC said that the switching station and transmission line – collectively, the project – are needed to provide CECC with a new electrical source to improve the quality of service, increase capacity and more reliably serve its loads in Greene County. Currently, in that general area of Greene County, AECC supplies CECC from the Crowley’s Ridge, Halliday and Marmaduke substations. Because the area is served by long distribution circuits, maintaining adequate voltage levels is becoming increasingly difficult, AECC added.
The desired in-service date for the project is Jan. 24, 2017, AECC said, adding that it requests a CCN approval date by June 14.
AECC said that the estimated cost of the switching station is $3.3m, and the cost of the line is $3.5m. AECC would pay for the construction using cash out of general funds.
After reviewing several options for addressing the need for improved service, AECC said that it determined that the best and most economical solution to provide the needed improved quality of service and reliability is to add a new 161-kV source for CECC in the Oak Grove Heights/Gainesville area to supply the Gainesville substation.
Adding a new 161-kV source closer to CECC’s load center in that area will also decrease line losses. The switching station and transmission line, for which the CCN is being requested, are needed to provide the electrical source for the Gainesville substation, AECC added. The project would also allow about 10 MW of load to be transferred off the existing Crowley’s Ridge, Halliday and Marmaduke substations, which would free up capacity at those stations for future growth.
The proposed site for the switching station is on property being purchased by AECC in Section 36, Township 18 North, Range Six 6 East in Greene County. AECC also noted that the location was selected as the most desirable location to tap an existing Entergy (NYSE:ETR) 161-kV transmission line, which is the best source to serve the load. AECC said that it has made arrangements with Entergy’s Entergy Arkansas to connect to the existing Entergy 161-kV grid at the proposed switching station location to add the additional point of delivery to AECC to supply CECC.
About one-third of the route would run across agricultural property, about one-third across land used for hay or pasture, and about one-third is wooded. AECC also said that the line would be comprised of single-pole steel transmission structures typically 60 feet to 85 feet in height. The right of way (ROW), which would be 100 feet wide, would run along existing land use lines, namely the edges of County Roads 823 and 814 for about two miles, then quarter-section lines running north to south or west to east, typically corresponding to existing property boundaries.
AECC also said that it would acquire the ROW for the transmission line by easements secured through agreements with the affected property owners or through condemnation. There are about 28 parcels of land, several of which are owned by the same landowners, potentially traversed by the line’s construction. AECC added that there would be one major road crossing at US Highway 49, which would also include a crossing of a railroad. The line would also cross seven county roads.
Among other thing, AECC also said that if the switching station is built at the proposed location, and the line is built along the proposed route, there would be no significant impacts on aesthetic pleasure, health and safety, the environment, or any existing or planned property uses.