The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) staff, in a Nov. 16 report filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB), recommended that the OPSB find that the basis of need for AEP Ohio Transmission Company’s (AEP Ohio Transco) proposed 138-kV project has been demonstrated and complies with certain requirements, provided that any certificate issued by the OPSB include such conditions as the company conducting a preconstruction conference before the start of any construction activities.
As noted in the report, AEP Ohio Transco would own, build, operate, and maintain the proposed Barnesville-Summerfield 138-kV Transmission Line in Belmont, Guernsey and Noble counties in Ohio.
The project involves installing a new 138-kV overhead electric transmission line between the existing Summerfield distribution substation and a planned Barnesville distribution substation. To meet 138-kV standards, a 100-foot right of way (ROW) is proposed by the company for the new single circuit transmission line, which would incorporate steel poles for support, staff added.
The project would rebuild the existing Barnesville-Summerfield 69-kV Transmission Line, which was built in 1943 and services the village of Barnesville. The rebuilt line would continue to serve the village of Barnesville with 69-kV transmission service, but would be built to 138-kV design standards, staff added.
The company “has shown that the increased load growth and aging infrastructure would cause reliability issues,” staff said.
Staff also said that the company has demonstrated the basis of need due to the reliability problems caused by the increasing load and the age of the existing 69-kV line, and that the proposed facility would allow the transmission system to provide safe and reliable electric service, while meeting all of the applicable planning criteria.
Construction of a planned 138/12-kV distribution substation would replace the existing Barnesville substation south of the village, staff said, adding that as the region develops, the transmission line would be operated at 138-kV to serve the additional future load.
The preferred route is about 15.8 miles long, and predominately parallels the existing Barnesville-Summerfield 69-kV line. Staff also said that this route would be offset by about 25 feet from the centerline of the existing 69-kV line in order to ensure safer construction and reliability and to allow the existing line to remain in service during construction.
The preferred route exits the existing Summerfield substation and follows the existing 69-kV line to the northwest for about 1,200 feet, then turns to the northeast along State Route 513 for about nine miles. Staff added that the preferred route continues along State Route 147, State Route 513, and then cross-country, for an additional six miles before running south of Sycamore Street in southern Barnesville, to the planned Barnesville substation.
The preferred route deviates from the existing 25-foot offset of the existing Barnesville-Summerfield transmission line at certain locations in order to avoid residential structures and other sensitive land use features, staff said.
The company estimates the total applicable intangible and capital costs for the preferred route at about $32.6m, staff said.
Staff also said that it recommends that the OPSB find that the preferred route represents the minimum adverse environmental impact, and therefore complies with certain requirements, provided that any certificate issued by the OPSB include such conditions as that prior to the start of construction, the company is to develop a public information program that informs affected property owners of the nature of the project, specific contact information of company personnel who are familiar with the project, the proposed timeframe for project construction, and a schedule for restoration activities.
Other conditions include that the certificate is to become invalid if the company has not started a continuous course of construction of the proposed facility within five years of the date of issuance of the certificate.
A local public hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 1 in Barnesville, Ohio, and an evidentiary hearing will begin on Dec. 15 at the PUCO offices in Columbus, Ohio, staff said.
AEP Ohio Transco is a transmission-only affiliate of AEP Ohio/Ohio Power Company, and is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP).