Arkansas ALJ recommends approval of estimated $1.2m line

An Arkansas Public Service Commission administrative law judge (ALJ), in a March 2 order, granted Carroll Electric Cooperative Corporation (CECC) a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CCN) authorizing it to build, operate, and maintain a high capacity electric transmission line beginning at a point on the Hiwasse-Cannich Transmission Line and ending at the proposed Herbaugh distribution substation, all in Benton County, Ark.

The line is needed and will serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity, the ALJ said.

As noted in the order, CECC filed an application for the CCN last September. In January, CECC, the commission’s General Staff, and the co-trustees of the Price Family Trust filed a joint motion stating that there are no other parties to the docket and that there have been no public comments received. The ALJ added that the joint motion was granted.

The ALJ added that according to a CECC witness, the project consists of an estimated $1.2m, 69-kV transmission line starting at a tap point on CECC’s Hiwasse-Cannich Tap 69-kV transmission line in Benton County, and terminating at a new substation site in the same county. The estimated cost for the proposed substation is about $1.9m, for an overall project total of about $3.1m, according to the witness.

The proposed line would be built and insulated for future operation at 161 kV, but would continue to operate at 69 kV for some time. The ALJ added that according to the witness, construction would require a new 100-foot right of way (ROW) easement, and that CECC is working with landowners to obtain those easements. The route for the proposed transmission line is about 1.8 miles long, while the substation site is about 15.22 acres and is owned by CECC.

As load projections for CECC show a continuing load growth in the area, including residential and small commercial, the proposed facilities would provide a significant step toward providing the required service for the area, the order added.

As TransmissionHub reported, the commission’s General Staff last November recommended that the commission grant CECC a CCN for the project.

The ALJ said in the order that there are no engineering or technical concerns associated with the project, and that CECC has made efforts to place the transmission line structures as to avoid existing homes and structures. CECC has further attempted to minimize the impact to land use by paralleling a road for part of the way, the ALJ said.

In addition, CECC made efforts to place structures adjacent to existing, maintained roadways to achieve the shortest possible path and chose single-pole structures to minimize the footprint of the overall project, the ALJ said.

The site proposed for the location of the line is reasonable and appropriate, the ALJ said, adding, “[W]hile it is almost inevitable that some type of private harm will be caused in the form of some degree of diminution in the value of private property, some degree of aesthetic displeasure, and some degree of environmental disruption, the collective public interest must be balanced against such private harm when determining the reasonableness of the routing and siting of electric transmission facilities which signify economic growth and prosperity.”

The ALJ said that the “commission does not sit as a super planning commission and does not initiate or participate in route selection for utilities. … The matter of the amount of compensation to be paid to property owners from whom [ROW] is taken, either by negotiation or eminent domain proceedings in a court of law, is a matter outside the purview of this commission.”

The proposed Herbaugh substation is a distribution substation that does not need to be certificated by the commission, the ALJ noted.

Among other things, the ALJ noted that construction of the proposed line is scheduled to be completed by mid-to-late 2018.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.