The Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas, in a Sept. 21 order, approved Southwestern Public Service’s (SPS) application and amended SPS’ certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) number 30153 to include the construction and operation of a single-circuit, 345-kV transmission line in Hale, Hockley, Lubbock, Terry, and Yoakum counties.
The approved route for the line is route modified S-9, the PUC said.
As noted in the order, the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) administrative law judges (ALJs) in June issued a proposal for decision recommending that the PUC grant SPS’ application and approve the use of route modified S-9. The PUC said that it adopts that proposal for decision, with some exceptions.
The PUC noted that SPS in June 2016 filed its application to amend its CCN for a proposed line, along with expansion and upgrading of the Yoakum and TUCO substations with the addition of a 345-kV terminal at each to accommodate the 345-kV transmission line.
The proposed line will begin at the existing TUCO substation located in Hale County, about two miles north of the City of Abernathy, and will extend generally southwest until it reaches the Yoakum substation, about one mile west-northwest of the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 435 and County Road 260, located in Yoakum County.
The PUC added that the project was identified by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) as needed for reliability to alleviate loading violations on the underlying network and voltage violations due to insufficient power supply to network-load additions.
The project, as part of the larger proposed TUCO-Yoakum-Hobbs project, was recommended by the high-priority incremental-load study that was undertaken by SPP to develop a transmission plan addressing the needs associated with the increased network loads in the SPP footprint. The PUC added that it approved the remainder of the Texas portion of the TUCO-Yoakum-Hobbs project in a separate docket.
The project was also identified by SPP through the 2016 integrated transmission planning near-term assessment as needed on an accelerated basis to address seven reliability needs – thermal overloads, the PUC said.
The application contained 184 primary links that comprise 22 geographically diverse, alternate routes, the PUC said, noting that route modified S-9 best meets certain factors. SPS will purchase a 150-foot easement – wider in some circumstances – for route modified S-9, which has a length of about 105.5 miles.
The proposed line will be built using primarily two-pole, H-frame, steel structures, and three-pole, tubular-steel structures will be used for high-angle structures and dead-end structures.
The PUC also said that the total estimated cost to build route modified S-9 is about $142.1m, comprised of about $4.7m in estimated TUCO substation costs, about $7.8m in estimated Yoakum substation costs, and about $129.5 for estimated transmission costs, including about $1.4m in estimated lesser prairie-chicken mitigation costs.
There are no recreation or park areas crossed or within 1,000 feet of the proposed centerline of any of the routes in contention, according to the PUC, which also noted that all of the routes in contention cross one recorded archaeological or historical site and have four additional recorded archaeological or historical sites within 1,000 feet of their right of way (ROW) centerlines. Construction of the proposed line will not have a significant effect on the geologic or physiographic features of the area. The PUC further noted that no impacts to federally or state-listed threatened or endangered species are anticipated, and that SPS will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should any federally listed species be observed during construction.
Route modified S-9 parallels existing transmission lines and other existing compatible ROWs for about 59.9 miles, the PUC said.
The PUC said that in the event that SPS or its contractors encounter any archaeological 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, the PUC said that SPS is to use best management practices to minimize the potential impact to migratory birds and threatened or endangered species.
Among other things, the PUC said that SPS is to cooperate with directly affected landowners to implement minor deviations in the approved route to minimize the impact of the line.