Petit Jean Electric Cooperative (PJEC) has presented evidence that a proposed 161-kV transmission line is needed to provide service to a new 5,000-kW industrial customer, relieve substation loading, provide for proper voltage, and improve reliability in the Bee Branch and Quitman substation areas in Arkansas, Clark Cotten, senior electrical engineer for the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) general staff, said in Dec. 20 direct testimony filed with the APSC on behalf of staff.
“I conclude that the proposed facilities are needed, and are in the public interest,” Cotten said in the filing submitted to the APSC.
As noted in Cotten’s testimony, PJEC in late July filed an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CCN) to build, operate, and maintain a new, approximately 7.1-mile, 161-kV transmission line originating at its existing Bee Branch substation and terminating at a new Damascus substation located in Van Buren County, Ark. PJEC in November filed an amended application to modify a portion of the original proposed route.
While PJEC anticipated beginning construction on Jan. 1, 2017, it appears that the procedural schedule established in the docket would not facilitate an APSC order until early March 2017, Cotten added.
The total estimated cost for the proposed facilities on the amended proposed route is $6.6m, Cotten said.
The proposed 161-kV transmission line and new Damascus substation are needed to provide service to a new 5,000-kW large power customer, relieve substation loading, provide for proper voltage, and improve reliability in the Bee Branch and Quitman substation areas, Cotten said.
The proposed facilities would be a 161-kV, three phase electric transmission line built with 477 mcm ACSR conductor with an overhead static conductor consisting of three/eighths inch high strength steel, Cotten said, adding that the line would be supported using standard Rural Utility Service steel structures, type TUS-1, typically 80 feet in height within a 100-foot-wide right of way (ROW).
Cotten also said that the route for the line would originate at PJEC’s existing Bee Branch substation and parallel an existing transmission line in a southeasterly direction for about 0.6 miles, at which point it turns south for about 4.4 miles, with a few minor variations to avoid certain property uses but generally following property boundaries. At that point, Cotten added, the route turns southwest for about 0.6 miles meeting U.S. Highway 65 and continuing parallel to Highway 65 on the westward side for another mile, then turning west about 0.5 miles to terminate at the Damascus substation.
The amendment to the proposed route involves a minor change at the point where the route turns west, leaving Highway 65, to terminate at the Damascus substation, Cotten said. The amended route avoids a residential property by moving the line to traverse between two commercial properties, adding about 300 feet to the route, and it reduces the amount of new disturbed land by using an existing distribution line easement for part of the amended route.
Cotten recommended that the APSC direct PJEC to affirm that the cultural resource assessment and evaluation of effects that the proposed project could have to historic properties as requested by the SHPO have been completed. Cotten also recommended that PJEC affirm that it would follow the tree clearing restrictions for federally listed bats, including the Northern Long Ear Bat, would be followed. Upon satisfactory response by PJEC to those two recommendations, and based upon Cotten’s evaluation of the application, Cotten recommended that the APSC grant PJEC a CCN to build, operate, and maintain the proposed facilities.