Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) staff on Jan. 26 recommended that the APSC grant Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC) a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CCN) to build, operate and maintain a new 6.2-mile, 115-kV transmission line.
The line would provide a second transmission service connection to two distribution substations for AECC member, First Electric Cooperative Corporation (FECC), Clark Cotten, senior electrical engineer for the APSC General Staff, added in direct testimony on behalf of staff.
The proposed facilities would consist of about 6.2 miles of 161-kV transmission line, to be operated at 115-kV, originating at AECC’s Olmstead distribution substation and terminating at FECC’s existing Zion Hill distribution substation, all located in Pulaski County, Ark. The line would be located within a 100-foot-wide right of way (ROW) and be supported by single steel poles with guying required at angle structures, Cotten added.
According to AECC, Cotten said, the desired in-service date for the proposed facilities is June 1, 2018, and the project’s cost is about $4.5m.
According to an AECC witness, the proposed facilities would provide a strong 115-kV transmission source from AECC’s Olmstead distribution substation to FECC’s Zion Hill distribution substation. Zion Hill, Cotten added, is currently served by a 12-mile, radial, 69-kV transmission line that originates at AECC’s Ward switching station, extends to FECC’s Mountain Springs distribution substation, before terminating at Zion Hill. The CCN, if approved, would result in about 14 MW of load at Zion Hill being fed by about 8.4 miles of 115-kV transmission line, rather than the existing 12 miles of 69-kV transmission line, providing increased reliability, reduced transmission losses, and allowing for future area load growth. The AECC witness further stated that removal of 14 MW of load from the Ward switching station would alleviate potential transmission stability issues in the Ward area identified in a transmission model of Entergy’s (NYSE:ETR) Entergy Arkansas Inc., Cotten added.
According to the AECC witness, the project has been submitted to the Midcontinent ISO (MISO) for the MISO Transmission Expansion Plan study process, and based on conversations with Entergy and MISO staff, AECC fully anticipates that the project would receive MISO approval.
Cotten also said that after reviewing the proposed route, he had concerns about the routing of the line from the point it exits the Olmstead distribution substation to the area around Sayles Road. In that area, the proposed route runs along Fortson Road and its location near a home located on the west side of Fortson Road was concerning, Cotten said. In that area, AECC had proposed an alternative route, referred to as Alternative A, Cotten said, adding: “I have had a conversation with AECC, and the cooperative is agreeable to using Alternative A up to the point it meets the proposed route on Sayles Road and then continuing with the proposed line route. I did not have any additional concerns with the remainder of the proposed route.”
Cotten noted that no written public comments have been received in the docket as of the date of his filing.
AECC has presented evidence that the proposed facilities are needed to maintain reliable electrical service to FECC and its members, Cotten said, adding that based on the direct testimonies filed by AECC, he concludes that the proposed facilities are in the public interest.
With his recommended use of route option Alternative A from the Olmstead distribution substation up to Sayles Road, Cotten said that the location of the proposed facilities is reasonable as the cooperative has adequately addressed certain factors identified by the APSC that should be considered in the siting of transmission facilities, including cost, health and safety, as well as ecological/environmental disruptions.
Among other things, Cotten recommended that the APSC grant a requested 500-foot variance in order to accommodate legitimate concerns and objections of property owners, whose land is being traversed, provided that such deviations or adjustments do not adversely affect other landowners, do not involve a significant cost increase, and that such deviations and adjustments would enable AECC to conform the location of the transmission line as closely as possible to existing land use and property lines.