OPSB approves stipulations relating to two AEP Ohio Transco rebuild projects

The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB), in a Feb. 2 order, approved and adopted stipulations related to two rebuild projects that were filed by regulatory staff and American Electric Power’s (NYSE:AEP) AEP Ohio Transmission Company (AEP Ohio Transco).

As noted in the order, one proposed project (Case No. 16-437-EL-BTX – Speidel-Barnesville) involves installing in Belmont County a new 138-kV overhead electric transmission line between the existing Speidel substation and a planned Barnesville distribution substation. The project would rebuild the existing Speidel-Barnesville 69-kV Transmission Line, which services the village of Barnesville and was built in 1914, the OPSB said.

The preferred route is about 3.7 miles long and predominantly parallels the existing Speidel-Barnesville 69-kV transmission line, the OPSB said, adding that the route would be offset by about 25 feet from the centerline of the existing 69-kV line in order to ensure safer construction and reliability, as well as to allow the existing line to remain in service during construction.

The preferred route exits the existing Speidel substation and follows the existing 69-kV line to the south and southwest for about 2.8 miles, the OPSB said. The preferred route splits off the existing 69-kV route just south of Grace Avenue, the OPSB said, noting that for 0.9 miles, the preferred route traverses open pasture and wooded land to the south and southwest, until it reaches the planned Barnesville substation, south of the village of Barnesville.

AEP Ohio Transco estimates that the total applicable intangible and capital costs for the Speidel-Barnesville project is about $16.6m for the preferred route.

The other proposed project (Case No. 16-438-EL-BTX – Barnesville-Summerfield) involves building the Barnesville-Summerfield 138-kV Transmission Line in Belmont, Guernsey, and Noble counties, the OPSB added. The line will run from the existing Summerfield distribution substation and a planned Barnesville substation, which would replace the existing Barnesville substation. The OPSB also said that the project will rebuild the existing Barnesville-Summerfield 69-kV Transmission Line that services the village of Barnesville and was built in 1943.

The preferred route for that project is about 15.8 miles long and predominantly parallels the existing Barnesville-Summerfield 69-kV Transmission Line. The route, the OPSB added, would be offset by about 25 feet from the centerline of the existing 69-kV line in order to ensure safer construction and reliability, as well as to allow the existing line to remain in service during construction.

The preferred route exits the existing Summerfield substation and follows the existing 69-kV line to the northwest for about 1,200 feet, then turns to the northeast along State Route 513 for about nine miles, the OPSB said. The route continues along State Route 147, State Route 513, and then cross-country, for an additional six miles before running south of Sycamore Street in southern Barnesville, to the planned Barnesville substation. The OPSB also said that the preferred route deviates from the existing 25-foot offset of the existing Barnesville-Summerfield Transmission Line at certain locations in order to avoid residential structures and other sensitive land use features.

AEP Ohio Transco estimates that the total applicable intangible and capital costs for the Barnesville-Summerfield project is about $32.6m.

With respect to the Speidel-Barnesville project, there are 463 residences – including several multi-unit structures, such as townhouses – within 1,000 feet of the preferred route centerline, 18 – including six single-family residences – of which are within 100 feet. The OPSB added that there are 711 residences within 1,000 feet of the alternate route centerline.

With respect to the Barnesville-Summerfield project, the OPSB said that there are 222 residences within 1,000 feet of the preferred route centerline, eight of which are within 100 feet; there are 226 residences within 1,000 feet of the alternate route centerline.

Noting that AEP Ohio Transco conducted a cultural resources literature review of the Speidel-Barnesville project, the OPSB said that one known archaeological site; 11 Ohio Historic Inventory (OHI) structures; and two cemeteries were identified within 1,000 feet of the preferred route.

Four known archaeological sites were identified within 1,000 feet of the preferred and alternate routes for the Barnesville-Summerfield project; no OHI structures or National Register Boundaries were identified within 1,000 feet of either route; and five cemeteries were identified within 1,000 feet of the preferred route, compared to six cemeteries identified within 1,000 feet of the alternate route.

For both projects, the OPSB added, permanent visual impacts would result from the introduction of a new manmade element to the landscape, and aesthetic impacts would vary with the viewer and setting, depending on the degree contrast between the proposed transmission line and the existing landscape.

Discussing ecological impacts, the OPSB said, for instance, that due to the lack of suitable habitat and no proposed in-water work, impacts to state and federal listed aquatic, reptile, and amphibian species are not anticipated for the Speidel-Barnesville and Barnesville-Summerfield projects.

The OPSB said that it finds that as a package, the stipulations, which were entered in the respective dockets in December 2016, benefit the public interest by resolving the issues raised in the matter without resulting in litigation.

The OPSB said that it finds that the proposed transmission facilities are needed to improve and maintain the quality of service and reliability in eastern Ohio where AEP Ohio Transco has identified a critical need to reinforce its transmission system to maintain and improve the quality and reliability of electric service in the area.

As part of the stipulations, the parties recommended that the OPSB issue the requested certificates of environmental compatibility and public need, subject to certain conditions.

The OPSB added that those conditions include that AEP Ohio Transco conduct a preconstruction conference prior to the start of any construction activities; that the certificates become invalid if AEP Ohio Transco has not commenced a continuous course of construction of the proposed facility within five years of the date of the issuance of the certificates; that prior to the start of construction, AEP Ohio Transco develop a public information program that informs affected property owners of the nature of the project, for instance; and that AEP Ohio Transco adhere to seasonal cutting dates of Oct. 1 through March 31 for removal of trees, unless coordination efforts with certain entities allow a different course of action.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3224 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.