The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) staff, in a May 30 report filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB), said that American Transmission Systems, Incorporated (ATSI) has demonstrated the basis of need for the East Springfield-Tangy 138-kV Loop to Broadview Substation Expansion Project.
As noted in the report, ATSI, a wholly owned subsidiary of FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE), filed an application in January for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for the construction of the project.
Noting that ATSI proposes to build, own, operate, and maintain the project in Clark County, Ohio, staff said that the $11.2m project is needed to improve the quality and reliability of electric service and to expand the electric transmission system to meet anticipated growth in the Clark County area for the near future. ATSI plans to place the transmission line in service by November 2018, staff said.
The proposed project would install a new 138-kV overhead electric transmission line between the existing East Springfield-Tangy 138-kV transmission line and the Broadview substation, staff said, adding that ATSI proposes a 60-foot right of way (ROW) for the new line, which would be a double-circuit line that would be supported by wood poles with a few structures requiring steel poles for support.
The approximately 4.8-mile preferred route begins at the Broadview substation, which is about one mile east of the intersection of State Route 72 and Willow Road, travels north for about a half mile, and then generally travels east to just north of the intersection of Morris and Mumper Roads. The preferred route then travels generally southeast until it reaches the East Springfield-Tangy 138-kV transmission line, staff added.
The company estimates the total applicable and intangible capital costs for the preferred route at about $11.3m, and at about $12.9m for the alternate route, which is about 5.3 miles long, staff said.
Discussing socioeconomic impacts, staff said that the preferred route alignment is comprised of 91.9% agricultural land uses, commercial or institutional land uses along either proposed route. The preferred route does not cross any recreational land use, staff said, adding that there are 128 residences located within 1,000 feet of the preferred route centerline, none of which is within the proposed 60-foot ROW.
Furthermore, while the company’s initial cultural resource literature survey identified two known archaeological sites and three cemeteries within one mile of the project, no resources were within the “area of potential effect,” or APE, staff said. The APE is defined as the land use perimeter that is being studied to determine potential impacts to culturally significant structures and institutions, staff said.
Of aesthetics, staff noted that aesthetic impacts would vary with the viewer and setting, depending on the degree of contrast between the proposed transmission line and the existing landscape.
Discussing threatened and endangered species, staff said that the project area is within the range of the state and federal endangered Indiana bat and the federal threatened northern long-eared bat. As a tree roosting species in the summer months, those species’ habitat may be impacted by the project, staff said, adding that in order to avoid impacts to the Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat, it recommends that the company adhere to seasonal tree cutting dates of Oct. 1 through March 31 for all trees over three inches in diameter.
The proposed facility is one component of the Springfield Area 138-kV Reinforcement Project, which would be built to maintain and improve reliability, as well as provide capacity for future economic growth in the Springfield area, staff said. Noting that the ATSI transmission grid in the Springfield area has 210 MW of load and serves about 55,000 customers, staff said that PJM Interconnection estimates that the ATSI system will experience 0.4% of annual load growth through 2026. The proposed project would improve operation and establish a more reliable system under system contingencies by eliminating thermal loading and low voltages, staff noted.
“The project would reinforce the local transmission system and would compensate for the increasing load in the Springfield area,” staff said. “The proposed facility would allow the transmission system to provide safe, reliable electric service, while meeting all the applicable planning criteria.”
Staff recommended that the OPSB find that the basis of need for the project has been demonstrated and therefore complies with certain requirements, provided that any certificate issued by the OPSB for the proposed facility include certain conditions.
Those conditions include that the facility be installed on the company’s preferred route, using the equipment, construction practices, and mitigation measures as presented in the application filed in January, and in response to staff data requests as well as further clarified by recommendations in the staff report.
Staff also said that the company is to conduct a preconstruction conference before any construction activities begin, and the certificate is to become invalid if the company has not started a continuous course of construction of the proposed facility within five years of the date of issuance of the certificate.