The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) on Feb. 7 filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas its comments concerning a 138-kV transmission line in Kent and Scurry counties proposed by Oncor Electric Delivery Company and Brazos Electric Power Cooperative.
As noted in the filing, the companies have proposed to design and build the new double-circuit-capable line, with one circuit initially in place, connecting the existing Brazos Electric Clairemont substation located in Kent County to the existing Oncor Cogdell substation located in Scurry County.
Depending on the route selected, the length of the line ranges between about 23 miles to 38 miles. The TPWD added that the project would use a self-support, double-circuit steel or concrete pole. Typical structure height would be 85 feet, but could vary depending on terrain. The TPWD also said that the right of way (ROW) width would be about 70 feet, with ROW normally extending an equal distance on both sides of the line centerline.
AECOM Technical Services was retained to identify and evaluate alternative routes and prepare an environmental assessment (EA) and alternative route analysis to support the companies’ application for a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN). A total of 144 alternative routes were identified for the Cogdell-Clairemont 138-kV transmission line project, the TPWD added, noting that the AECOM project team initiated a detailed evaluation of each alternative route.
Oncor evaluated the routes and in coordination with Brazos Electric, selected “Route 125” as the route that best addresses certain requirements.
The TPWD added that Route 125:
- Is 119,826 feet long and is the shortest route
- Has the third longest length parallel and adjacent to existing public roads/highways (82,820 feet)
- Has the sixth shortest length across agricultural pastureland (60,037 feet)
- Has the least number of stream crossings (22)
Of the 144 routes evaluated in the EA, Route 125 appears to best minimize adverse impacts to natural resources, the TPWD said, adding that it recommends that the commission select a route that would minimize adverse impacts to natural resources, such as Route 125.
The TPWD also recommended that if migratory bird species are found nesting on or adjacent to the project area, then they must be dealt with in a manner consistent with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which prohibits taking, attempting to take, capturing, killing, selling/purchasing, possessing, transporting, and importing of migratory birds, their eggs, parts and nests, except when specifically authorized by the Department of the Interior.
The TPWD recommended excluding vegetation clearing activities during the general bird nesting season, March through August, to avoid adverse impacts to that group.
In addition, the TPWD recommended avoiding disturbance of the Texas horned lizard, its burrows, and colonies of its primary food source, the harvester ant, during clearing and construction.
Among other things, the TPWD recommended that Oncor and Brazos Electric survey the commission-selected route for prairie dog towns or burrows and species that depend on them. If prairie dog towns or burrows are found in the area proposed for disturbance, the TPWD said that it recommends avoiding those areas during construction and installing exclusion fence to keep prairie dogs from entering the project area.