The North Carolina Utilities Commission, in a Feb. 22 order, issued to Duke Energy‘s (NYSE:DUK) Duke Energy Progress (DEP) a certificate of environmental compatibility and public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to build about 6.91 miles of new 230-kV transmission line in Carteret County, N.C., subject to certain conditions.
Prior to DEP engaging in any ground disturbing activities associated with the construction of the line, DEP is to conduct an archaeological survey and report the results thereof to the commission and the State Environmental Review Clearinghouse. Upon completion of the survey, DEP is to comply with any further requests or recommendations of the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the commission added.
As noted in the order, DEP last August filed an application for a CPCN authorizing the construction of the new line between DEP’s existing Havelock-Morehead Wildwood 115-kV North line near the Town of Harlowe, and the existing Havelock-Morehead Wildwood 230-kV line near the Town of Newport.
The commission noted that the new line is required to mitigate a voltage problem in the Havelock area, as well as to increase electric capacity and service reliability across eastern North Carolina.
According to DEP testimony, by summer 2020, an outage of the Havelock terminal of the Havelock-Morehead Wildwood 115-kV North line would cause voltages in the Havelock area to fall below planning criteria.
The commission also noted that the new line from the proposed Harlowe 115-kV to 230-kV substation in the Town of Harlowe, to the proposed Newport 230-kV switching station along the Havelock-Morehead Wildwood 230-kV line near the Town of Newport, will increase electric capacity for the immediate area and ensure reliable service in the DEP service area in the region.
The new line will provide benefits to the entire region, including Carteret and Craven county residents and businesses through enhanced reliability for DEP customers, in addition to customers of rural electric cooperatives and municipally owned electric utilities.
No party filed testimony or statements opposing the granting of the CPCN for the proposed route, the commission said.
A routing study and environmental report that DEP submitted described the initial preferred route. The commission added that after selection of that route and preparation of the routing and siting report, DEP learned that the site for the proposed Harlowe 230-kV to 115-kV substation needed to be shifted to minimize the impact to features regulated under the Clean Water Act. Changing the substation location required slight adjustments to the alignment of the preferred route, with the newly proposed Harlowe substation being sited west of State Route 101 and eliminating the proposed highway and Harlowe Canal crossings.
The commission also said that the proposed route begins at the proposed Harlowe 230-kV to 115-kV substation near the Town of Harlowe and southwest of State Route 101. The alignment exits the substation heading west for about 1.29 miles across private pine plantations, before arriving at the eastern boundary of the Croatan National Forest (CNF).
The commission added that upon exiting the CNF, the route continues west and parallels the CNF boundary for about 3.12 miles across active forest plantations, Significant Natural Heritage Areas, and private conservation easements until it meets the Havelock-Morehead Wildwood 115-kV South Transmission Line, north of the Town of Newport.
In that vicinity, the route crosses an additional 1,310 feet of CNF land, the commission said, adding that from there, the alignment turns north and parallels the existing overhead transmission line for about 1.55 miles before arriving at the proposed Newport 230-kV switching station.
According to the report, the proposed in-service date for the new line is about March 2020, and the projected cost is about $32m.
The commission added that it “finds that the proposed route satisfies the environmental compatibility and public convenience and necessity requirements … and, therefore, concludes that a CPCN should be issued to DEP for construction of a new transmission line along the proposed route.”