Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) on Dec. 7 filed with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas a proposed order regarding PEC’s June application to amend a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for a proposed transmission line project in Hays County, Texas.
As noted in the proposed order, PEC seeks approval to build, own, and operate the single-circuit 138-kV line from PEC’s existing Highway 32 substation, located north of the intersection of Farm-to-Market (FM) road 32 and FM 12, to its existing Wimberley substation, located west of FM 2325 in Wimberley, Texas.
The area traversed by the line is in the Edwards Plateau and the Balconian biotic provinces of Texas, PEC said. While the southern half of the project crosses rural hill country land used for pasture/rangeland, the northern half of the project crosses the suburban, residential area south of Wimberley, including crossing the Blanco River, PEC said.
PEC said that it filed its application to amend its CCN to allow it to rebuild and upgrade the existing four-mile, 69-kV radial transmission line connecting its Highway 32 substation to its Wimberley substation.
The project is needed to provide 138-kV transmission service to support the growing loads in Wimberley, provide necessary capacity for backup to feeders at adjacent substations, and eliminate the 138-69-kV autotransformer as a single point of failure risking long-term outages, PEC said.
PEC noted that it and other parties on Dec. 7 also filed a stipulation with the commission that resolves all of the issues in the proceeding.
The parties signing the stipulation (referred to as the signatories) agree that the commission should approve the project on the “stipulation route,” which is about 3.9 miles long and has an estimated cost of $6.6m, PEC said.
According to the stipulation, the signatories include PEC, PUC staff, the City of Wimberley, Turner Generational, LLC, and the 1492 Alliance.
PEC said in the proposed order that no parks or recreational areas are crossed by the stipulation route, and that there are three parks or recreational areas located within 1,000 feet of the centerline of the stipulation route. The project is not expected to have a significant impact on parks or recreational areas, PEC said.
The stipulation route does not cross any known cultural resource sites, PEC said, noting that there is one archaeological site located within 1,000 feet of the centerline of the stipulation route. The project is not expected to have a significant impact on historical or archaeological resources, PEC said.
While the stipulation route would generally create a visual feature across the landscape, it would not be a feature that is inconsistent with existing features in the area, PEC said. Utilizing the stipulation route, the project is primarily being built within the exact same corridor as the existing 69-kV line that is being rebuilt and upgraded, the PEC said, adding that utility and other linear corridors, including other existing transmission and distribution lines, are common throughout the area.
Discussing environmental integrity, PEC said that all five primary alternative routes and the stipulation route cross potential habitat of certain federally endangered or threatened species, including the golden-cheeked warbler. Among other things, PEC said that before construction, it would conduct a natural resources assessment to consider threatened and endangered wildlife and plant species along the approved route.
Among other things, the PEC said that no modifications to the project are required as the result of the recommendations and comments made by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). The TPWD recommended, for instance, the judicious use and placement of sediment control fence to exclude wildlife from the construction area.