AEP Texas seeks approval for new 345-kV line in Cameron, Willacy counties in Texas

American Electric Power’s (NYSE:AEP) AEP Texas on Jan. 23 filed an application with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas to amend a certificate of convenience and necessity for the proposed Bonilla to Ladekidde Double-Circuit 345-kV Transmission Line in Cameron and Willacy counties in Texas.

The company said that it is proposing to build the new double-circuit line, with only one circuit to be installed initially. The line would extend from the new AEP Texas Bonilla substation to the new Magic Valley Wind Farm II, LLC Ladekidde substation, the company said.

The proposed line would begin at the new AEP Texas Bonilla substation, to be located adjacent to the existing AEP Texas North Edinburg to Rio Hondo 345-kV transmission line about one-half mile west of U.S. Highway 77, and 3.5 miles south-southeast of the community of Sebastian, Texas.

The existing AEP Texas North Edinburg to Rio Hondo line would be connected into the new AEP Texas Bonilla substation, the company added, noting that the new line would generally extend to the northeast until it reaches the proposed Ladekidde substation that would be built by the wind developer about 7.5 miles east of U.S. Highway 77, and two miles northwest of San Perlita, Texas.

The project is needed to connect wind generation to the ERCOT electrical grid, the company said, adding that Magic Valley Wind Farm II, LLC has requested that AEP Texas interconnect its Magic Valley Wind Farm II generation facilities at the Ladekidde substation, which will be owned by Magic Valley Wind Farm II, LLC. The wind generation facility will be comprised of 115 units of 2-MW wind turbines, with a total nominal capacity of 230 MW.

The company also said that the project would be built using single-pole steel Breakthrough Overhead Line Design, or “BOLD,” structures.

The company said that the primary reasons that single-pole structures were selected for the project are landowner preference and the reduction of impacts on land use; additional considerations were the ability to compress the construction schedule with use of single-pole structures with comparable costs to alternate structures.

The estimated cost of the double-circuit capable 345-kV project ranges from about $2.2m to $2.4m per mile, the company said.

The number of miles of right of way (ROW) for all 21 alternative routes ranges from 22.01 miles for “Route I” to 35.05 miles for “Route A,” the company said.

Initially, this segment of the double-circuit line would have one circuit installed and the number of miles of circuit would initially be the same as the number of miles of ROW. The company also said that the potential number of miles of new transmission line circuit for all 21 alternative routes ranges from 44.02 miles for “Route I” to 64.10 miles for “Route A.”

The typical ROW for the project would be 150 feet in width, and none of the ROW has been acquired, the company said.

The area traversed by the transmission line is located in the Tamaulipan Biotic Province, within the Gulf Coastal Prairies region of Texas.

Burns & McDonnell, which prepared an environmental assessment and routing study for the project, recommended “Route H” as the route that best addresses certain requirements, AEP Texas added. AEP Texas said that it also determined that Route H provides the best balance of routing characteristics and best addresses certain requirements.

The number of habitable structures that are within 500 feet of the centerlines of the 21 alternative routes ranges from a low of two for Routes H and “P,” to as many as 46 for “Route E,” the company said.

No parks or recreation areas are crossed by any of the 21 alternative routes, the company said, adding that five routes, including Route H, are located within 1,000 feet of Las Majadas Pond.

Among other things, the company added that there are no National Register of Historical Places-listed or determined-eligible sites that are crossed by or within 1,000 feet of any of the 21 alternative routes.

According to the estimated schedule, if the project is approved, ROW and land acquisition would begin in January 2018 and be completed in July 2019; engineering and design would begin in March 2018 and be completed in March 2019; material and equipment procurement would begin in July 2018 and be completed in July 2019; construction of facilities would begin in August 2019 and be completed in June 2020; and the facilities would be energized in July 2020.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3235 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.