American Electric Power’s (NYSE:AEP) AEP Ohio Transmission Company (AEP Ohio Transco) on March 17 told the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) that it accepts the recommended conditions by regulatory staff in relation to the company’s proposed Lemaster 138-kV Substation Project in York Township, Athens County, Ohio.
According to a March 15 staff report that contained the recommendations and was filed with the OPSB, the company has proposed to build the new transmission substation to replace the existing Poston substation, which will be retired and removed.
The substation would consist of one 138-kV to 12-kV transformer, four breaker strings, 10 138-kV breakers, two 138-kV capacitor banks, and a control building.
The company proposes to begin construction in May and to place the new substation in service by June 2018, staff added.
The Poston substation has been subject to flooding in the past, posing a safety concern, staff said, noting that the existing substation site increases the difficulty of maintaining and repairing aging equipment that was installed in the 1940s and 1950s.
That equipment no longer complies with the company’s safety standards, staff said, adding that the drivers for equipment replacement are age, dielectric strength breakdown, short circuit strength breakdown, and accessory damage.
The new substation site would be located on about five acres – adjacent to the Poston substation site – and cost about $13m to build.
The company intends to acquire the five-acre substation site from a 22-acre parcel owned by the Athens County Port Authority, and it would purchase an additional easement for an access road to the site, staff added. No other property acquisition or easements would be required to build and operate the new substation, staff said, noting that the footprint of the substation site is open field, undeveloped and non-forested.
There are six transmission lines that currently tie into the existing Poston substation, portions of which will ultimately need to be relocated in order to tie into the new substation, staff said. The company will file separate applications with the OPSB for those six transmission line tie-ins, staff said.
There are no residences within 1,000 feet of the substation, with the nearest residences being about 1,500 feet west of the substation site. Also, there are no cemeteries, churches, schools, or other community facilities located within 1,000 feet of the substation site.
Staff also said that the company performed a literature review and Phase I cultural resource management investigation for the project last October. That review identified no previously recorded archaeological sites on the station site, and one previously recorded architectural site, which is located adjacent to the project area.
Staff added that the Phase I field work led to a determination that most of the project area has been previously severely altered and disturbed. Field studies revealed one archaeological site on the western portion of the overall 22-acre site, and a consultant recommended that that site either be avoided or that a Phase II archaeological assessment be done.
Since the outline of the Lemaster substation would not impact that site (Site 33AT1057), staff recommended that the company avoid that site and place visible fencing between the substation project site and Site 33AT1057 to avoid accidental construction disturbance.
Staff also said that none of the four streams that are located within the vicinity of the project area are located within the footprint of the proposed substation, and no in-water work is proposed.
Staff said that Indiana bat presence in the vicinity of the project has been confirmed. While tree clearing is not anticipated, the company has committed to only clearing from Oct. 1 through March 31 if tree clearing becomes necessary, staff said.
Among other things, the conditions call for – prior to construction in areas that require permits – the company to obtain and comply with all applicable permits and authorizations as required by federal and state entities.
According to staff, the application will be recommended for automatic approval on March 22, unless suspended by the board’s chairperson or an administrative law judge.