Louisiana regulators adopt settlement involving SWEPCO project

The Louisiana Public Service Commission, in a March 7 order, adopted a Jan. 5 proposed uncontested stipulated settlement that was entered into by commission staff and Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) in relation to the company’s Leaside Way Transmission Project (Docket No. U-34630).

As noted in the order, the project consists of building the new 138/69-kV Leaside Way substation along with three newly configured 138-kV transmission lines – Leaside Way to Southwest Shreveport; Leaside Way to Stonewall; and Leaside Way to Western Electric.

The current Southwest Shreveport to Western Electric line will become the Leaside Way to Southwest Shreveport line and the Leaside Way to Western Electric Line. The commission added that the current Stonewall Tap will become the Leaside Way to Stonewall line.

The Leaside Way substation will replace the Summer Grove 69-kV transmission line and will be located at the common connection point for the three new 138-kV transmission lines. The commission added that there is expected to be a net increase of 0.5 miles in 138-kV transmission lines and a net reduction of 4.7 miles in 69-kV transmission lines is expected.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $24.7m, and SWEPCO will provide the funding, the commission said, noting that the total cost allocated to the Louisiana jurisdiction is estimated at $9.1m.

SWEPCO last August filed with the commission an application for certification of the project in accordance with the commission’s General Order dated Oct. 10, 2013, in Docket No. R-26018 (referred to as the transmission certification order).

The company said in its application that the project is needed to maintain and improve reliable service to about 26,653 customers, representing about 200 MW of load, in the southwest Caddo Parish, La., area, the commission added.

In addition to the expectation of improved reliability and service, the company anticipates that the project will postpone the need to rebuild the Karnack to Baldwin to Woodlawn 69-kV and the North Marshall to Woodlawn 69-kV transmission lines. The commission added that both rebuilds have been identified as solutions to address overload conditions that are expected to occur by 2026 that have been identified in the Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) recent 10-year ITP10 summer model.

The application seeks a ruling that the project be certified, that it serves the public convenience and necessity, and that requirements of the transmission certification order have been met, the commission said.

No commission approval of the project is required under the transmission certification order; thus commission approval of the project is not intended to modify the requirements or exemptions set forth in that transmission certification order. However, the commission added, the requested relief is granted because the project is needed for reliability purposes, is a cost-effective solution to the reliability needs, is in the public interest and in the interests of SWEPCO’s ratepayers.

Staff last December issued a report, in which staff recommended that the commission find that the project is in the public interest since the project is needed for reliability purposes and is a cost-effective solution to current and future reliability needs.

The commission also said that SWEPCO had no objection to staff’s report and thus the company and staff entered into the stipulated settlement.

Staff concluded that while the project qualifies as a “transmission facility” under the transmission certification order, it is subject to an exemption. The transmission certification order exempts transmission facilities that are needed primarily or entirely for reliability purposes, the commission added, noting that the project qualifies for that exemption since it is needed to maintain and improve reliability in the southwestern part of Caddo Parish.

The stipulated settlement’s terms include that SWEPCO is to be allowed to seek recovery of the prudently incurred costs associated with the project in the normal course of ratemaking, and that the company has an ongoing obligation to prudently manage the project, including ongoing construction and costs.

Among other things, the commission added that the stipulated settlement resolves all issues related to SWEPCO’s application, and that construction of the project will serve the public convenience and necessity and is in the public interest.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3059 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.