AEP Ohio Transco, OPSB staff file stipulation regarding proposed rebuild project in Belmont County, Ohio

AEP Ohio Transmission Company (AEP Ohio Transco) and Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) staff on Dec. 14 filed with the OPSB a joint stipulation and recommendation that is intended to resolve all of the matters pertinent to the company’s proposed Speidel-Barnesville 138-kV Transmission Line Rebuild Project.

The company and staff recommend that the OPSB issue a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need – subject to certain conditions – for construction and operation of the preferred route of the line rebuild, according to the filing.

As noted in the filing, the company proposes to rebuild the existing 3.5-mile Speidel-Barnesville 69-kV electric transmission line in Belmont County, Ohio. The project is part of a larger program of improvements to the existing transmission service in eastern Ohio where the company has identified a critical need to reinforce its transmission system to maintain and improve the quality and reliability of electric service in the area, the filing said.

The existing Speidel-Barnesville line provides 69-kV transmission service to the city of Barnesville, the filing said, adding that the poles and crossarms have deteriorated so severely that they no longer meet the company’s transmission line engineering standards, requiring a complete rebuild of the line.

The rebuilt line would continue to serve the city with 69-kV transmission service, but would be built to 138-kV design standards. The filing also noted that construction of a new 138/12-kV distribution substation at the Barnesville terminus of the project is currently planned and would ultimately enable the operation of the new Speidel-Barnesville transmission line at 138-kV.

The stipulation would benefit customers and the public interest, as the company has made commitments to comply with OPSB staff conditions to minimize adverse impacts associated with the project, the filing stated.

As TransmissionHub reported, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) staff in November said that the preferred route is about 3.7 miles long, and predominately parallels the existing Speidel-Barnesville 69-kV Transmission Line. That 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, staff added.

The preferred route exits the existing Speidel substation and follows the existing 69-kV line to the south and southwest for about 2.8 miles. Staff also said that the preferred route splits off the existing 69-kV route just south of Grace Avenue. For 0.9 miles, the preferred route traverses open pasture and wooded land to the south and southwest, until it reaches the planned Barnesville distribution substation, south of the village of Barnesville, staff said.

Staff said that the company has demonstrated the basis of need for the project due to the reliability problems caused by the increasing load and the age of the existing 69-kV line. The proposed facility would allow the transmission system to provide safe and reliable electric service, while meeting all the applicable planning criteria, staff said.

The company estimates the total applicable intangible and capital costs for the preferred route at about $16.6m, staff said.

According to the joint stipulation and recommendation, the record establishes that the proposed preferred route for the project represents the minimum adverse environmental impact, considering the state of available technology and the nature and economics of the various alternatives, and other pertinent considerations.

The record establishes that the project would serve the public interest, convenience and necessity.

The recommended conditions of the certificate of environmental compatibility and public need, include that the project be installed on the company’s preferred route; 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; and before construction begins, 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 timeline for project construction, and a schedule for restoration activities.

Also, the company is to adhere to seasonal cutting dates of Oct. 1 through March 31 for removal of trees, unless coordination efforts with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allow a different course of action. The conditions also call for the company to re-coordinate with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Ohio Department of Transportation once final pole locations and heights are determined for the projct, the filing added.

AEP Ohio Transco is a transmission-only affiliate of AEP Ohio/Ohio Power Company, and is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP).