American Electric Power’s (NYSE:AEP) AEP Ohio Transmission Company (AEP Ohio Transco) and the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) staff (collectively referred to as the signatory parties) on July 10 filed with the OPSB a joint stipulation and recommendation to resolve all the relevant issues in the case pertaining to the company’s proposed Herlan-Blue Racer 138-kV Transmission Line Project.
The signatory parties recommend that the OPSB issue a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for construction and operation for the project along the preferred route, subject to certain conditions, according to the joint stipulation.
As TransmissionHub reported, staff in June filed a report with the OPSB recommending that the OPSB find that the basis of need for the project has been demonstrated and therefore complies with specified requirements, provided that any certificate issued by the OPSB include certain conditions.
The proposed project involves the installation of a new 138-kV overhead electric transmission line between the Herlan switching station in Seneca Township, which is under construction, and the existing Blue Racer substation in Franklin Township, staff said.
In order to meet 138-kV standards, the company has proposed a 100-foot right of way (ROW) for the new line, which would incorporate steel H-frame structures for support, staff said.
As noted in staff’s report, the preferred route, which is about 3.3 miles long, exits the Herlan switching station to the southwest for about 0.3 mile and crosses State Route (SR) 78. After crossing SR 78, staff added, the route turns to the southeast and parallels State Route 78 for about 0.7 mile. The route continues to follow SR 78 to the southwest, crossing twice to avoid constraints for about one mile, staff said. The route then turns to the southeast paralleling the existing Summerfield-Berne 138-kV transmission line ROW for 1.3 miles before terminating at the Blue Racer substation, staff said.
The company estimates that the applicable intangible and capital costs for the preferred route are about $6.4m, and about $7m for the alternate route, staff said.
As noted in the joint stipulation, the project is needed as 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 eastern Ohio area.
According to the joint stipulation, the project, which is part of a larger program of improvements to the existing transmission service network in eastern Ohio, would increase system reliability in the area by:
- Improving switching flexibility, operational performance, system protection schemes, and balance circuit flows by connecting the Muskingum-Natrium 138-kV double-circuit transmission line to the new switching station
- Improving voltage performance in the area by installing two 138-kV capacitor banks at the Herlan switching station and tying the 138-kV circuits together at Herlan
- Serving as a central hub for AEP Ohio Transco’s area 138-kv transmission system and providing the flexibility to handle future load growth, while ensuring adherence to NERC transmission planning standards. The proposed project would provide a new energy source to large industrial customers in the Summerfield area, which is served by an aging radial 138-kV line
The stipulation noted that adequate data on the proposed project has been provided to the OPSB and staff to determine, for instance, the:
- Basis of the need for the proposed facility
- Proposed facility would serve the public interest, convenience and necessity
- Nature of the probable environmental impact of the proposed facility
- Preferred route represents the minimum adverse environmental impact considering the available technology and nature and economics of the various alternatives
- Construction of the project on the company’s preferred site is consistent with plans for expansion of the regional power grid and that it would serve the interests of electric system economy and reliability
One of the conditions listed in the joint stipulation calls for the company to conduct a preconstruction conference prior to the start of any construction activities, while another one calls for the company to – at least 30 days before that conference – submit to staff one set of detailed engineering drawings of the final project design.
The conditions also call for the certificate 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, the joint stipulation added.
In addition, 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.
Among other things, the joint stipulation added that the conditions also call for the company to coordinate with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Ohio Department of Transportation once final pole locations and heights are determined for the project.