According to a proposed order issued on Aug. 21 and prepared by the Docket Management Division of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas, consistent with a unanimous stipulation (agreement) that was executed, resolving all of the issues among the parties to the proceeding, Sharyland Utilities, L.P.’s application regarding the Stiles-to-Coates 138-kV transmission line in Reagan County, Texas, is approved.
The proposed order was sent by Irene Montelongo, director, Docket Management, to the PUC commissioners. Montelongo noted that the proceeding was referred in March to the State Office of Administrative Hearings. Subsequently, the docket was returned to the PUC, Montelongo said.
On Aug. 22, Montelongo told all parties of record that the proposed order will be considered by the commissioners at the open meeting scheduled for Sept. 28, at the PUC’s offices in Austin, Texas.
As noted in the proposed order, Sharyland in January filed an application to amend its certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) and operate a new 138-kV line in Reagan County from the existing Stiles substation to the proposed Coates substation.
The project is needed to energize the new Coates substation that will be used to serve large industrial and commercial loads at the southern end of Sharyland’s Stanton division in west Texas, which is a remote area that its single certificated to Sharyland, the proposed order noted. For the last several years, Sharyland has experienced significant, consistent, and unprecedented load growth in the Stanton division, primarily driven by oil and gas development activities, the proposed order said.
Sharyland’s historical peak demand over the past six years has grown by an average of about 18% per year, the proposed order said. In addition, Sharyland has continued to receive an increased amount of large load requests in each of the last few years, and the total large load requests in 2017 are on track to exceed the total requests in each of those previous years, the proposed order noted.
The need for the project is based on actual large load requests, mostly from oil and gas developers, who rely heavily on large amounts of electricity for their commercial and industrial operations, the proposed order said.
Sharyland retained POWER Engineers, Inc., to prepare an environmental assessment and alternative route analysis for the project. POWER identified “Route B4” as the route that best addresses certain environmental criteria and the PUC’s substantive rules from a land use and environmental standpoint, the proposed order added.
Sharyland evaluated the 14 alternative routes and also identified Route B4 as the route that best addresses certain criteria and the PUC’s substantive rules.
The “Settlement Route” is comprised of Route B4 with a modification to “Link 21,” the proposed order added, noting that Link 21 as proposed in the application has been modified to avoid existing land-use constraints while more closely conforming to the curve of State Highway 137, thus forming “Link 21M.”
The Settlement Route is 7.1 miles long, and has an estimated cost of about $18.6m, according to the proposed order.
No parks or recreational areas are crossed by the right of way (ROW) of the Settlement Route, and no parks or recreational areas are located within 1,000 feet of the centerline of the Settlement Route. The proposed order also noted that there are no recorded historic or prehistoric sites located within the ROW of the Settlement Route, and no recorded historic or prehistoric sites are within 1,000 feet of the centerline of the Settlement Route.
While the Settlement Route crosses 3.13 miles of area with high archaeological site potential, no significant adverse impacts to historical or archaeological sites are expected as a result of the construction of the project along the Settlement Route, the proposed order said.
No significant impacts to wetland resources, ecological resources, endangered and threatened species, or land use are anticipated as a result of the construction of the project, the proposed order said.
The TPWD recommended, for instance, avoiding or minimizing potential impacts to natural resources, listed or rare species, and migratory birds, as well as incorporating plant species during restoration to benefit monarch butterflies.
The proposed order added that Sharyland has agreed to comply with the TPWD’s March 2017 recommendations, where reasonable and possible, consistent with the need to complete the project in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Among other things, the proposed order said that in the event that Sharyland or its contractors encounter any archeological artifacts or other cultural resources during project construction, work is to cease immediately in the vicinity of the resource and the discovery is to be reported to the Texas Historical Commission.
Also, Sharyland is to minimize the amount of flora and fauna disturbed during construction of the transmission line, except to the extent necessary to establish appropriate ROW clearance for the line.
The proposed order further noted that Sharyland is to cooperate with directly affected landowners to implement minor deviations in the approved route to minimize the impact of the line.