A joint proposed proposal for decision (PFD) filed by Oncor Electric Delivery Company with the Public Utility Commission of Texas calls for the commission to approve Oncor’s application to amend a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN), as amended, to build a new double-circuit-capable 345-kV transmission line, with one circuit initially installed and operated at 138 kV, from Riverton to Sand Lake.
The approved route for the Riverton-Sand Lake 345/138-kV Transmission Line is Oncor’s route 54, which is about 38.78 miles long and estimated to cost about $49.9m, excluding station costs, the PFD added. About $8.8m in station costs associated with the facilities at the Riverton switching station and Sand Lake switching station are also included in the project, the PFD said, adding that including those costs, route 54 is estimated to cost about $58.6m.
As noted in the PFD, Oncor is authorized to represent that the parties agreeing to the joint filing include commission staff; Oxy USA, Inc., and Oxy USA WTP LP; and WHB Texas Management, LLC. The filing is styled as a proposed PFD instead of a proposed order because, while it is agreed to by all of the parties that attended a hearing on the merits, it is non-unanimous since there remain certain intervening parties that did not attend the hearing on the merits but have not been stricken as parties to the case.
Oncor last July filed with the commission its application to amend a CCN for its proposed Riverton-Sand Lake 345/138-kV transmission line in Loving, Reeves, and Ward counties in Texas.
The project consists of a new double-circuit-capable transmission line on 345-kV structures – with one circuit initially installed and operated at 138 kV – that extends from Oncor’s Riverton switching station currently under construction in Reeves County, located along County Road 440 just east of U.S. Highway 285, to Oncor’s proposed Sand Lake switching station to be located about six miles northeast of the City of Pecos on the northwest side of Farm-to-Market Road 3398 in Ward County.
The PFD added that the project is needed for numerous reasons, including to address reliability violations; to serve load growth driven primarily by increased oil- and gas-related activity; to extend transmission service to an area without it; to support transmission voltage feed to new substations; and to improve substation transformer and distribution feeder performance at existing substations.
The PFD noted that the area is currently served by Oncor’s Wink to Culberson and Yucca Drive to Culberson 138-kV transmission lines. The aggregate historical load on those lines, the Culberson Loop, increased from 29 MW in 2012 to 205 MW in 2016. The PFD added that at the time of the application, the aggregate load was estimated to exceed 400 MW in 2018, and exceed 500 MW in 2019. By the time Oncor filed its direct testimony in the proceeding, those estimated loads had increased to 677 MW for 2018, and 839 MW by 2022. The PFD further noted that Oncor’s estimates only reflected load increases it confirmed based on signed customer agreements.
The ERCOT regional planning group (RPG) endorsed the project as a “Tier 2” transmission project, and ERCOT recommended building the project at 345-kV standards in order to meet long-term load growth in the area, as well as to support voltage conditions.
The PFD added that the project would also serve load growth by establishing transmission service for new substations in the project area, such as Oncor’s Mentone SW substation, and improve distribution feeder performance for existing customers.
Approval of the project on route 54 would also allow Oncor to establish a new Mentone SW substation, as recommended by ERCOT, near the community of Mentone without the need to file an additional CCN application to build an additional transmission line to connect the Mentone SW substation to the proposed transmission line project.
Construction of the project at 345-kV standards will, for instance, provide synergies with the upcoming Far West Texas group of projects that the ERCOT Board of Directors recently endorsed, as well as others being studied, the PFD added.
The project would be generally built on Oncor’s standard 345-kV double-circuit steel lattice V-towers, the PFD said, noting that route 54 is the best alternative when all routing factors are considered. All of the parties that attended the hearing on the merits either support or are willing to accept route 54. The PFD added that route 54 does not significantly impact or adversely affect community values, recreational and park areas, historical and aesthetic values, or the environmental integrity of the area traversed by route 54.
Route 54 does not cross any parks or recreational areas, and there are no parks or recreational areas within 1,000 feet of the centerline of that route.
The PFD also noted that there is one recorded cultural resource site crossed by route 54, and there are two such sites located within 1,000 feet of the route. In addition, the route would not cross any known habitat for endangered or threatened species, the PFD said.
Route 54 utilizes or parallels existing compatible right of way and apparent property boundaries for about 47.2% of its length.
The PFD also noted that route 54 has one habitable structure within 500 feet of its centerline.
Among other things, the PFD called for Oncor to conduct surveys to identify pipelines that could be affected by the transmission line, if not already completed, and coordinate with pipeline owners in modeling and analyzing potential hazards because of AC interference affecting pipelines being paralleled.
Also, the PFD said that in the event that Oncor or its contractors encounter any archaeological artifacts or other cultural resources during project construction, work is to cease immediately in the vicinity of the resource, and Oncor or its contractors is to report the discovery.