The Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas, in a July 20 order, approved Houston County Electric Cooperative’s (HCEC) application regarding a proposed 138-kV transmission line, consistent with a stipulation that HCEC filed in June.
As noted in the order, HCEC last November filed its application to amend its certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for the proposed line in Houston County that would connect HCEC’s existing Mustang Prairie substation, located on the northwest side of State Highway 21 and southwest of Crockett between Farm-to-Market Road 2967 and County Road 3380, to the proposed Weldon substation, to be located along Farm-to-Market 2915, about 3.8 miles west of Farm-to-Market Road 230 and southwest of the City of Lovelady in southern Houston County.
HCEC identified the proposed line as needed to improve electric service reliability to HCEC’s members southwest of Crockett and to meet the region’s growing power demand.
HCEC presented 17 alternative routes for consideration using a combination of 58 alternative routing segments. The PUC also noted that the right of way (ROW) width will typically be 100 feet, adding that most of the overhead facilities for the project will be built on galvanized steel or concrete single-pole structures.
The routes that were filed in the CCN application ranged from 13.35 to 18.02 miles in length, the PUC added.
As TransmissionHub reported, the stipulation supports approval of Route 14 – referred to as the stipulation route. According to the stipulation, the signatories to the stipulation include HCEC and PUC staff.
The estimated cost for the transmission line along the stipulation route is about $15.5m, which is the second least expensive option of the 17 alternative routes, according to a proposed order prepared last month by the PUC’s Docket Management Division. The project would be financed with internally generated funds and/or third-party financing, the proposed order said.
HCEC retained POWER Engineers to prepare an environmental assessment (EA) for the proposed project. The routes that were filed in the application ranged from 13.35 miles to 18.02 miles long. The length of the stipulation route, the proposed order added, is about 13.62 miles. The stipulation route is comprised of segments D-F-H-P-Z-AC-AY1-BB-AX2.
The proposed order also noted that HCEC believes that the stipulation route is the route that best addresses certain requirements.
The intervenors in the proceeding have all agreed to the stipulation or either do not oppose or take no position on the stipulation.
In its Jul 20 order, the PUC noted that PUC staff recommends that HCEC cooperate with directly affected landowners to implement minor deviations in the stipulation route to minimize the impact of the transmission project.
The project will have no impact on parks or recreational areas, and it will have no impact on historical or archaeological resources, the PUC said. In addition, no significant impacts to wetland resources, ecological resources, endangered and threatened species, or land use are anticipated as a result of the construction of the project, the PUC said.
The PUC said that in the event that HCEC or its contractors encounter any archaeological or other cultural resources during construction of the line, HCEC is to cease work immediately in the vicinity of the resource and report the discovery to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) and take action as directed by the THC.
Also, the HCEC is to exercise extreme care to avoid affecting non-targeted vegetation or animal life when using chemical herbicides to control vegetation within the ROW, and is to ensure that such herbicides used comply with certain rules and guidelines.
The PUC further noted that HCEC is to minimize the amount of flora and fauna disturbed during construction of the line, except to the extent necessary to establish appropriate ROW clearance for the line.
Among other things, the PUC said that HCEC is use best management practices to minimize the potential impact to migratory birds and threatened or endangered species.