The City of Garland, Texas, d/b/a Garland Power & Light (GP&L) on Feb. 25 filed an application with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas for a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for a proposed double-circuit 345-kV transmission line in Rusk and Panola counties in Texas.
The Rusk to Panola Transmission Line Project would extend from the new Rusk switching station in Rusk County – which would be built and owned by Oncor Electric Delivery Company – to the new Panola switching station in Panola County – which would be built by Rusk and owned by Garland – adjacent to the border with Louisiana, according to the application.
Garland would be the sole owner of the project when it is placed in service, the city said, adding that Rusk would fund the project during construction, but would convey it to Garland before it is placed in service.
The Rusk switching station is located about 940 feet north of Farm to Market Road (FM) 840 and about 1,330 feet west of County Road (CR) 3122 in Rusk County, while the Panola switching station is located about 3,780 feet east of the intersection of CR 4631 and CR 463 in Panola County, the city said.
The line would be built using primarily single-pole steel structures, but it is possible that some lattice structures will also be used. The height of typical structures would be about 135 feet to 145 feet. The city also said that the project would entail about 37 to 40 miles of right of way (ROW), and about 74 to 80 miles of circuit.
According to the estimated schedule, ROW and land acquisition would begin in March 2017, and be completed in April 2018; engineering and design would begin in May 2017, and be completed in February 2018; material and equipment procurement would begin in March 2018, and be ongoing throughout construction; construction of the facilities would begin in 2018-2019, and be completed in 2021; and energizing of the facilities would begin in 2021, and be completed within 30 days of construction completion.
As noted in a proposed preliminary order and order of referral included in the application, the total estimated cost for the project ranges from about $103.8m to $109.9m, depending on the route chosen.
The city said in its application that land use throughout the project area is dominated by timberland interspersed with areas of pastureland. Much of the study area is also occupied by oil and gas wells and platforms, as well as interconnecting oil and gas pipelines.
The project is being built under a FERC order in Docket No. TX11-1-001, Southern Cross Transmission LLC, directing Garland to connect the Southern Cross project to the ERCOT grid in accordance with an offer of settlement in that case; Garland, Oncor and Southern Cross executed the offer of settlement.
FERC ordered the city to provide the interconnection in accordance with the interconnection agreements attached to the offer of settlement, the city said, adding that FERC found that the interconnection is in the public interest.
While the Southern Cross project will provide significant benefits to Texas and is in the public interest, the city said that it would support certain conditions on the PUC’s order, including:
- As it committed at FERC, the city will not seek to recover the costs of developing, building, interconnecting or financing the Garland Project or the Panola switching station through transmission service rates, although it will own and operate those facilities as open access facilities subject to PUC rules, NERC standards and ERCOT protocols applicable to such transmission facilities
- Southern Cross will execute an ERCOT market participant agreement before the city energizes the Garland Project, and the PUC should provide instructions or guidance to ERCOT to make the bylaw and protocol revisions necessary to allow Southern Cross to execute such an agreement
The city said that the western end of the project would connect to the Rusk switching station, and the eastern end of the project would connect to the Panola switching station, which would connect at the Texas-Louisiana border to a new HVDC converter station to be owned by Southern Cross adjacent to the Panola switching station across the border in Louisiana.
Noting that Garland and Rusk retained Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company to prepare an environmental assessment and alternative route analysis report for the project, the city said that preliminary alternative routes identified by Burns & McDonnell were presented at two public open house meetings. As a result of input from the meeting attendees, the preliminary alternative routes were modified, resulting in 51 segments and 96 primary routes, the city said.
Burns & McDonnell completed a “z-score screening methodology” using a subset of the 39 different environmental and land use criteria that were calculated for each route, as well as the results of the public involvement program, to identify 12 routes that are proposed in the application.
The city added that Burns & McDonnell evaluated the advantages and disadvantages of each proposed route using the environmental and land use criteria, input from agencies and public input, and determined that “Route RP5” represented the best balance of the routes analyzed among land use, environmental and cultural resource factors that best address certain requirements.
Route RP5, which entails Segments 1, 7, 8, 15, 26, 28, 31, 34, 42 and 48, is 37.1 miles long.
Route RP5, which ranked the best in the z-score analysis, is recommended as it is the second shortest route and would be built largely along existing corridors, the majority of which are existing transmission lines, the city said. While Route RP5 has a higher habitable structure count, the city said, most of those structures are already located near an existing transmission line, and thus, the overall impact of Route RP5 would be relatively less for those residents compared to residents that would be affected by an entirely new ROW.
In addition, Route RP5 has the least amount of forested wetlands and the least amount of total wetlands within the proposed ROW of the proposed routes analyzed. The city further noted that Route RP5 has the second fewest number of recorded cultural sites within 1,000 feet, as well as the second shortest length through high probability areas for cultural resources.
Among other things, the city said that while it recommends Route RP5, it can build and operate any of the transmission lines on any of the routes proposed in the application.