The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), in a Sept. 8 filing submitted to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas, offered recommendations regarding AEP Texas’ proposed Solstice to Roserock POI 138-kV Transmission Line Project in Pecos County, Texas.
As noted in the filing, American Electric Power’s (NYSE:AEP) AEP Texas proposes to build the new line from its Solstice substation – which is under construction for other additional needs in the area and is located just north of Interstate Highway (IH) 10 about 0.4 miles east of the intersection of IH 10 and Hovey Road, and just east of the existing AEP Texas Barrilla Junction substation – to the Roserock Point of Interconnect (POI).
The project would provide transmission service for the new Roserock solar farm, the TPWD said, adding that until the line is built to directly feed the solar farm into the AEP Texas Solstice substation, the solar farm will directly interconnect temporarily as a hard tap into the existing AEP Texas Barrilla to Ft. Stockton 138-kV transmission line.
The hard tap is referred to as the Linterna Interconnect and is located about five miles east of the IH 10 and Hovey Road Interconnection on the north side of IH 10, the TWPD said. The proposed Roserock POI location would be dependent on which route is approved by the PUC and would interconnect into the solar farm 138-kV hard tap transmission line.
The TPWD also said that the length of the proposed transmission line route would be between 4.44 miles and 5.07 miles, depending on the route selected by the PUC. The typical structure for the project would be either a steel or concrete single-pole structure design and vary between 80 feet to 100 feet in height, depending on clearance requirements, the TPWD said, adding that the typical right of way (ROW) for the project would be 100 feet in width.
AEP Texas has determined that “Route 2” provides the best balance of routing characteristics and best addresses certain requirements, primarily because the route makes the best use of land by paralleling the existing Ft. Stockton to Barrilla Junction 138-kV transmission line for the whole length of the proposed line. Additionally, the TPWD added, Route 2 is the shortest route – 4.44 miles – and is the least expensive route – about $6.1m – due to the reduced length and absence of angle structures along the route.
The TPWD said that additional positive attributes associated with Route 2 include that it:
- Crosses no parks/recreational areas
- Crosses no known habitat of federally listed endangered or threatened species
- As well as other routes, would cross one stream, but all would span the stream and protective measures used would result in an insignificant impact upon it
- Crosses no National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) sites and no NRHP listed or eligible sites are within 1,000 feet of the ROW centerline
- Has no habitable structures within 300 feet of the ROW centerline
Based on a review of the natural resource impacts presented in an environmental assessment and CCN, project maps, and GIS data, the TPWD said that it determined that Alternative Route 2 appears to best minimize adverse impacts to natural resources while also maintaining the shortest route length. Route 2 would also parallel an existing transmission line for the entire route length, the TPWD said, adding, “TPWD recommends the PUC select a route that would minimize adverse impacts to natural resources, such as Route 2.”
The TPWD also said that it recommends the judicious use and placement of sediment control fence to exclude wildlife from the construction area. In addition, the TPWD said that for soil stabilization and/or revegetation of disturbed areas within the proposed project area, it recommends erosion and seed/mulch stabilization materials that avoid entanglement hazards to snakes and other wildlife species.
The TPWD further noted that to prevent electrocution of perching birds, it recommends using avian-safe designs that provide appropriate separation between two energized phases or between an energized phase and grounded equipment.
In addition, the TPWD said that it recommends having a permitted biologist survey the PUC-selected route for any Texas horned lizards that may be in the area that is proposed for disturbance.
Among other things, the TPWD said that it recommends surveying the PUC-selected route for prairie dog towns or burrows and species that depend on them.