In order signed by APSC administrative law judge, EAI granted approval to upgrade 161-kV line in Arkansas

Entergy’s (NYSE:ETR) Entergy Arkansas Inc., (EAI), in a Feb. 27 order signed by an Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) administrative law judge, was granted a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need (CECPN) to upgrade, rebuild, and operate a 161-kV transmission line with navigable water crossing and associated facilities in Clay County, Ark.

As noted in the order, EAI last July filed an application for a CECPN involving the project, which will rebuild and upgrade the existing approximately 39-mile EAI Datto to EAI Jim Hill 115-kV Transmission Line to 161-kV operation. The project also includes upgrading the existing end-terminal substations, EAI Datto and EAI Jim Hill, as well as three intermediate substations – Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation Corning North, EAI Corning, and EAI Texas Eastern switching station #8 – to 161-kV operation. EAI, the order added, also requested a grant of a 100-foot variance zone on either side of the center line of the proposed route to avoid any construction obstacle and to address legitimate concerns and objections of property owners whose lands will be traversed, providing any adjustment will not impact any other property owner and the cost of such adjustment is reasonable.

The company further requested approval to rebuild two existing navigable water crossings located within the existing transmission line right of way (ROW), over the Black River and St. Francis River in Clay County.

According to the company, the estimated cost of the proposed electrical facilities is $67.2m; crews are scheduled to begin ROW survey and preparation in 2Q17, continuing through 3Q17, the order added. Construction of the proposed line would begin in 4Q17, and completion of the facilities is projected for 2Q19, according to the order.

The company estimated the effects on energy costs due to the proposed construction to be a 0.39% increase to an EAI residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month, which would equate to a monthly increase of 31 cents to the current residential base rates.

The order also noted that the Midcontinent ISO (MISO) recommended the proposed transmission line based on the need to ensure the transmission system has sufficient capacity to meet projected power flows, while maintaining required voltage levels. According to MISO, a contingency event at either end of the Jim Hill to Datto to Water Valley 115-161-kV network would render the remainder of the circuit radial, and such a development would further exacerbate the low-voltage vulnerability in that network.

The order also noted that according to MISO, thermal violations were documented on the Texas Eastern Station-8 to Corning 115-kV circuit and the Jim Hill 161/115-kV auto-transformer and that low voltage violations were documented on the Corning North and Datto 115-kV circuits, as well as on the Pocahontas East and Industrial Park line, Pocahontas North and Ingram line, Pocahontas West and Water Valley 161-kV substations, as well as along the Datto to Water Valley 161-kV transmission line.

APSC General Staff has stated that the construction of the proposed electrical facilities is needed; the route for the proposed line and the financing method are reasonable; and the environmental and economic impact of the facilities is acceptable. Staff recommended that a CECPN be granted for the construction, operation and maintenance of the proposed transmission facilities.

As TransmissionHub reported, staff, EAI and MISO last October filed a joint motion with the APSC, requesting that the commission waive a hearing scheduled for Nov. 8, 2016, on EAI’s application for the CECPN. They also requested that the APSC issue an order authorizing the construction and operation of the proposed facilities, pending authorization from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for the navigable river crossing, and for all other necessary and proper relief.

According to the order signed by the ALJ, EAI on Feb. 7 filed a letter from the USACE authorizing the company to rebuild the existing navigable water crossing of the St. Francis River under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbor Act. Staff on Feb. 17 said that the USACE letter meets the criteria of Nationwide Permit 12 for Utility Line Activities, and recommended approval of EAI’s request for a navigable water crossing of that river.

The order noted that no petitions for intervention or limited appearance have been filed in the proceeding other than that filed by MISO.

EAI has taken appropriate action in the proceeding to avoid any damage to, or disturbance of, culturally, archeologically or historically significant sites at the location and along the route of those proposed transmission facilities, the order said.

The proposed facilities are needed to increase system reliability concerns in the area, to provide capacity for future load growth for the area, and to mitigate further voltage problems that are predicted to occur without the proposed construction, the order said.

While there will be certain unavoidable consequences from the construction and operation of the facilities, it is determined that they represent an acceptable adverse environmental impact, considering the state of available technology, the requirements of law, the present and future need of the end users for the electricity to be transmitted and distributed by the upgraded transmission facilities, the nature and economics of the proposed facilities, and the alternatives that were considered, the order said.

Among other things, the order said that EAI is granted the request for the 100-foot variance zone on either side of the center line of the proposed route to avoid any construction and cultural clearance issues, as well as the legitimate concerns and objections of property owners whose lands will be traversed, provided, for instance, that such deviations or adjustments do not adversely affect other landowners.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 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.