The Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas, in a March 30 final order, approved Brazos Electric Power Cooperative’s application to build a double-circuit 138-kV transmission line in Denton and Collin counties in Texas.
As TransmissionHub reported, administrative law judges (ALJs) with the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings in a Dec. 18, 2015, proposal for decision recommended approval of Route 15, as modified, proceeding from Tap 5-P-O-K/Substation Site III, for the Parvin Transmission Line and Substation Project.
The proposed project involves building about 3.8 miles to 11.7 miles of new double-circuit 138-kV electric transmission line from a tap point along an existing transmission line in Denton County to a new substation to be sited in eastern Denton County near the intersection of Parvin Road and FM 1385 (the Parvin Substation), the ALJs said.
In the application filed in December 2014 with the PUC to amend its certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) to build the line, Brazos Electric proposed 24 alternative routes, with eight possible tap locations and three possible substation locations. The ALJs added that the project is to address the need for increased transmission service to Denton County Electric Cooperative d/b/a CoServ Electric.
Route 15 is the shortest – 3.8 miles long – and least expensive route – about $10.2m in construction and right of way (ROW) costs – passes by the least number of habitable structures, is one of the routes preferred by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and has the support of staff, the ALJs said.
“Overall, in the ALJs’ opinion, Route 15 best meets the applicable routing criteria,” they said. “Alternatively, Route 11 (Tap 4-J-F-G-I/Substation Site II) would be a good route, as well.”
At 4.4 miles in length and about $11m in cost, Route 11 is 0.6 miles longer and $844,910.48 more expensive than Route 15, the ALJs said, adding that Brazos Electric has estimated the cost of substation acquisition and construction to be the same for each route at about $7.4m.
Route 15 is superior to Route 11 in terms of environmental integrity, paralleling property boundaries and other factors, the ALJs said, noting that they recommend two modifications to Route 15 that will reduce the cost and lessen the impact of the line on two landowners.
The ALJs said that Route 15 should be modified as such:
- Segment P-O: Starting at Node P, the segment traverses northeast, paralleling the east side of a property line for 3,139 feet. The segment turns northwest, paralleling the north side of property lines and the south side of an existing oil/gas pipeline for 1,043 feet, and crosses over Doe Branch. The segment turns north, crosses over an existing oil/gas pipeline and Fishtrap Road, and parallels the west side of property lines for 3,643 feet. The segment turns northwest and traverses across country for 1,093 feet, then turns north and parallels the east side of a property line for 1,090 feet. The segment ends at Node O
- Segment O-K: Starting at Node O, the segment continues west, paralleling the south side of a property line for 2,117 feet. The segment ends at Node K and Substation Site III, at the southwest corner of the property tract
In its March 30 final order, the PUC said that the approved route for the proposed project is the modified route 15, as noted by the ALJs.
Discussing environmental integrity, for instance, the PUC said that overall, route 15 would have similar or less impact on natural resources compared to the other routes.
The PUC noted that the need for the proposed project is driven by rapid load growth and development in the study area and associated service reliability. Load growth is occurring at a pace that will exceed CoServ’s ability to reliably meet the need with existing distribution facilities, the PUC said.
Among other things, the PUC said that in the event that Brazos Electric or its contractors encounter any archaeological 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.
Also, Brazos Electric is to exercise extreme care to avoid affecting non-targeted vegetation or animal life when using chemical herbicides to control vegetation within the ROW. The PUC further noted that Brazos Electric is to minimize the amount of flora and fauna disturbed during construction of the transmission project, except to the extent necessary to establish appropriate ROW clearance for the project.
The PUC also said that Brazos Electric is to use best management practices to minimize the potential impact to migratory birds and threatened or endangered species including conducting a pre-construction assessment for the presence of endangered and/or threatened species or suitable stopover and/or migration habitat along the approved route.