Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) staff, in a Dec. 27, 2016, report, recommended that the OPSB find that the basis of need for AEP Ohio Transmission Company’s (AEP Ohio Transco) proposed Yager-Desert Road 138-kV Transmission Line Rebuild Project in Harrison County, Ohio, has been demonstrated and that it complies with certain requirements, provided that any certificate issued by the OPSB for the proposed facility include specified conditions.
Staff also said that it concludes 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.
As noted by staff, the proposed project would install a new 138-kV overhead electric transmission line between the Yager substation, which is under construction, and the existing Desert Road substation. To meet 138-kV standards, the company has proposed a 100-foot right of way (ROW) for the new line, which would incorporate steel poles for support.
Staff also said that the project involves replacing a portion of the existing Dennison-Desert Road 69-kV transmission line, which has been in service since 1926, and serves the city of New Philadelphia and the villages of Carrollton, Dennison and Newcomerstown. The new line would continue to serve that area with 69-kV transmission service, but would be built to 138-kV design standards.
Staff added that the preferred route of the Yager-Desert Road project is about 6.8 miles long, and predominantly parallels the existing Dennison-Desert Road line. The new line would be offset by about 25 feet from the centerline of the existing 69-kV line in order to ensure safe construction and reliability and to allow the existing line to remain in service during construction.
The preferred route exits the Yager substation to the north and follows the existing 69-kV line to the northeast and east for about three miles to the south of Bowerston, then continues to the Desert Road substation, staff added. The preferred route deviates from the existing 69-kV transmission line centerline five times for a total of 1.4 miles, staff said, noting that the deviations are intended to avoid residences and other sensitive land uses. The preferred route generally follows State Route 151 and parallels a railroad for most of its route.
Staff said that it recommends that the OPSB find that the preferred route represents the minimum adverse environmental impact, and therefore complies with certain requirements, provided that any certificate issued by the OPSB include certain conditions.
“The project would result in both temporary and permanent impacts to the project area,” staff said. “There is a higher potential for disruption of more residences and businesses in general along the alternate route, as the preferred route crosses less properties, and is rerouted from the existing centerline where buildings are located in the” ROW.
There are 82 residences within 1,000 feet of the preferred route centerline, one of which is within 100 feet – that residence is about 55 feet from the proposed preferred route centerline, staff said. No residences would need to be removed for construction or operation of the line along the preferred route, but it is likely that six residences would need to be evaluated closely in order to determine if they should be removed, as they are within the alternate route’s 100-foot ROW, staff said.
Among other things, the conditions note that the facility is to be installed on the company’s preferred route; the company is to conduct a preconstruction conference prior to the start of any construction activities; and the certificate is to become invalid if the company has not commenced a continuous course of construction of the proposed facility within five years of the date of issuance of the certificate.
Also, 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 timeframe for project construction, and a schedule for restoration activities.
Staff also listed as a condition that the company is to adhere to seasonal cutting dates of Oct. 1 through March 31 for removal of any trees greater than or equal to three inches in diameter, unless coordination efforts with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allow a different course of action.
A local public hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 11 in Bowerston, Ohio, and an evidentiary hearing will begin on Jan. 25 in Columbus, Ohio, staff said.
AEP Ohio Transco is a transmission-only affiliate of AEP Ohio/Ohio Power Company, and is a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP).