The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), in a Feb. 23 filing submitted to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, said that it recommends that the commission select a route for a certain Lyntegar Electric Cooperative (LEC) transmission project that would minimize adverse impacts to natural resources, such as “Route 4.”
As noted in the filing, LEC proposes to build a new 115-kV overhead transmission line and two new substations within northwestern Dawson County and northeastern Gaines County in Texas.
The estimated mileage lengths of the four alternative routes under consideration are 18.31 miles for Route 1; 18.19 miles for Route 2; 20.27 miles for Route 3; and 19.56 miles for Route 4.
The TPWD added that all alternative routes would be built with about 80-foot-high steel or concrete poles, with a proposed right of way (ROW) width of 60 feet.
All four alternative routes under consideration would follow existing distribution line alignments for significant portions of their lengths. The TPWD added that in many areas, the existing distribution line would be converted to an underbuild on the new transmission line, while in other cases, it is anticipated that the transmission line and distribution lines would not share the same structures.
The new Welch substation site is located within currently farmed cropland at the northeastern end of the project area. The TPWD further noted that the new Thunderhead substation site is located within a fallow field at the southeastern end of the project area. Both proposed substation locations would temporarily disturb about one acre of surface area and permanently convert about 0.5 acre to a fenced, graveled electrical facility.
According to an environmental assessment (EA) prepared by JGB Consulting to support LEC’s application for a certificate of convenience and necessity, there were no significant differences in the resource areas of archaeological and historic resources, important plant and animal species, surface water and wetlands, soils, or agriculture.
The TPWD also noted that according to the EA, one public meeting/open house event was held last October. A longtime farm owner and resident attended the public meeting and expressed opposition to Link 6, which would be used by Routes 1 and 2 to supply the Thunderbird substation and the new U.S. Silica sand mine because the transmission line would be located about 90 feet from the resident’s home.
Based on the comments, LEC considered an alternative route to the sand mine, using Link 9 in Routes 3 and 4, as the LEC-preferred route provided no significant obstacles were discovered during field surveys, the TPWD added.
Another landowner and lease holder opposed Link 1b used by Routes 1 and 3 due to oil field plans; the lease holder also envisioned difficulty with Link 8 in Route 2. Based on those comments, LEC determined that only Route 4 had no expressed opposition by any directly affected party, the TPWD added.
During field surveys, no significant environmental issues were discovered that would preclude the construction of Route 4 in favor of another route. The TPWD also said that LEC concluded that with certain mitigation recommendations that would apply to all the proposed routes, Route 4 could be built without significant impacts to the physical and human environment and for reasons related to community values, land use, public input, aesthetic values, and landowner preferences, it would be the preferred route.
The TPWD said that it concurs that the level of impact to natural resources between the four route alternatives would be nearly identical, and that regardless of the route selected, the TPWD supports implementation of certain recommended mitigation measures.