The Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas, in a Sept. 29 final order, approved Sharyland Utilities, L.P.’s application, as modified, to amend a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for the Stiles-to-Coates 138-kV transmission line in Reagan County, Texas.
A unanimous stipulation and settlement agreement was executed that resolves all of the issues among the parties to the proceeding, the PUC said.
As noted in the order, Sharyland filed its application in January to amend its CCN to allow it to build and operate the line from the existing Stiles substation to the proposed Coates substation. The line will be built on steel or concrete monopole structures.
The PUC further noted that 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 is singly certificated to Sharyland. 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 PUC added that Sharyland’s historical peak demand over the past six years has grown by an average of about 18% per year, and that forecasts show that Sharyland’s peak demand will continue to increase significantly over the next six years.
The PUC noted that 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, the PUC said, adding that Sharyland also identified route B4 as the route that best addresses certain criteria.
The settlement route is comprised of route B4 with a modification to “link 21,” the PUC said. Link 21 as proposed in the application has been modified to avoid existing land-use constraints while more closely conforming to the curvature of State Highway 137, thus forming “link 21M.” As modified, link 21M begins at the intersection of “link 17,” located about 2.25 miles south-southeast of the intersection of SH 137 and Cemetery Road. The link heads south-southeast for about 0.11 mile, and then turns east for about 0.18 mile. The link then turns south-southeast for about 0.13 mile until it reaches the link’s intersection with links 14, 22, and 23, located about 2.12 miles west of the intersection of SH 137 and RM 33, the PUC added.
The settlement route is 7.1 miles long and has an estimated cost of about $18.6m.
There is only one landowner affected by the modification to link 21 and that landowner is a signatory to the agreement, the PUC added.
The settlement route crosses no cropland or land irrigated by traveling irrigation systems, the PUC said, noting that the settlement route crosses 6.88 miles of pasture/rangeland. 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 PUC also said that the settlement route crosses 3.13 miles of area with high archaeological site potential, noting that 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 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has issued recommendations for the project, including to avoid or minimize 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 PUC added that Sharyland has agreed to comply with the department’s recommendations where reasonable and possible, consistent with the need to complete the project in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Among other things, the PUC said that Sharyland is to use best management practices to minimize the potential impact to migratory birds and threatened or endangered species. In addition, the PUC said that Sharyland is to cooperate with directly affected landowners to implement minor deviations in the approved route to minimize the impact of the line.
Also, the PUC said that in the event Sharyland 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.