The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), in Dec. 5 comments filed with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas recommended that the PUC select a route that would minimize adverse impacts to natural resources, such as “Route 11,” for Brazos Electric Power Cooperative’s proposed Kittyhawk Transmission Line and Substation Project in Collin County, Texas.
As noted in the TPWD’s filing, Brazos Electric retained Cox McLain Environmental Consulting to prepare a route study and environmental report (RS-ER) to support its application for a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for the proposed electric transmission line and substation. The project would involve building 2.04 to 4.96 miles of new double-circuit 138-kV transmission line to connect the proposed Kittyhawk substation to an interconnection point located along an existing transmission line either to the east, northeast, west, or southwest of the substation, depending on the route selected, the TPWD said.
The proposed five-acre Kittyhawk substation would be sited along or near State Highway (SH) 121 in the vicinity of Alma Drive or Exchange Parkway in western Collin County, Texas, the TPWD said, adding that the line would be built within an approximate 70- to 100-foot-wide right of way (ROW) on single-pole structures.
The RS-ER evaluated 25 primary route alternatives using 31 route segments, four interconnect locations and six substation locations, which were identified following a preliminary alternative route analysis and public involvement program, the TPWD said.
Brazos Electric identified “Route 11” as the route that best meets PUC guidelines for routing and would have the least overall impact on routing constraints because the route:
- Is the shortest route
- Impacts the least number of habitable structures (two) along with three other routes
- Is within 1,000 feet of fewer cemeteries than other options
- Crosses fewer streams, open water, wetlands, pastures, and woodlands than many other routes
- Has fewer feet of visual foreground for parks and highways than many other routes
- Is the least expensive route
The TPWD added that the proposed project’s area is within a rapidly developing area, which includes portions of the cities of Allen, Frisco, McKinney, and Plano, and contains primarily suburban housing with riparian corridors and patches of agricultural land as the prominent ecological features of the landscape. Avoiding impacts to streams and habitat corridors along streams is the primary TPWD focus for the project area, the TPWD said.
Route 11 is recommended because it, for instance:
- Is the shortest route (2.04 miles)
- Would parallel roadways for 90% of its length
- Would cross zero parks and recreation areas
- Is one of 10 routes that cross the least number of streams
- Is one of five routes that cross the least amount of 100-year floodplains
- Is one of five routes that follow parallel to the least length of creeks
- Is one of three routes that crosses the second shortest length (678 feet) through woodlands
The TPWD also said that it recommends avoiding or minimizing placement of the line across suitable foraging habitat for wood storks, such as shallow water areas, and avoiding or minimizing loss of potential roosting habitat. In addition, because the state-listed threatened wood stork is a large-bodied bird that is less agile during landing and departure from feeding areas, the TPWD said that it recommends that Brazos Electric mark the lines with bird flight diverters to minimize potential collision impacts.
Among other things, the TPWD also said that it recommends that if equipment would come in contact with inland streams or water bodies, it recommends that Brazos Electric prepare and follow an aquatic invasive species transfer prevention plan in order to prevent inadvertent transfer of aquatic invasive plants and animals on project equipment.
As TransmissionHub reported, the PUC in a Dec. 7 order, referred the docket concerning the proposed project to the State Office of Administrative Hearings and requested the assignment of an administrative law judge to conduct a hearing and issue a proposal for decision, if such is necessary in the event one or more issues are contested by the parties in the proceeding.