AEP Texas Inc., and Brazos Electric Power Cooperative on April 20 filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Texas a stipulation intended to represent the agreement among certain parties to support the commission’s approval of a stipulation route – Route C – for the Brazos Electric Gyp to AEP Texas Benjamin 138-kV Transmission Line in King and Knox counties in Texas.
As noted in the stipulation, the applicants – that is, AEP Texas and Brazos Electric Power Cooperative – last November filed an application to amend their certificates of convenience and necessity (CCN) to allow them to build, own, and operate a new single-circuit 138-kV transmission line between the proposed Brazos Electric Gyp switching station and the AEP Texas Benjamin substation.
The applicants included Route C as one of 16 alternative routes for the commission’s consideration, the stipulation noted, adding that the total length of the right of way (ROW) for Route C is 19.66 miles.
The parties signing the stipulation – referred to as the signatories – include Rock Royalty, Inc., according to the filing.
Also on April 20, the applicants filed with the commission a proposed order, under which the commission approves the application, consistent with the stipulation.
As noted in the proposed order, the project is driven by the need to address reliability issues and future load growth in the West Texas area north and east of the City of Aspermont.
The applicants would each own one half of the transmission line associated with the project, with Brazos Electric owning the southwestern half of the line connected to the proposed new Gyp switching station, and AEP Texas owning the northeastern half of the line connected to the expanded AEP Texas Benjamin substation.
Route C uses or parallels existing compatible corridors and apparent property lines to a reasonable extent, the proposed order added. Route C parallels existing transmission line ROW or other compatible ROWs, or apparent property lines, for about 14.74 miles of the total 19.66 miles of the route.
The study area that is traversed by the alternative routes evaluated for the project is located in the North Central Plains region and is characterized by questas or parallel low north-south ridges, the proposed order added. The study area is primarily rural with residential development concentrated in the City of Benjamin, the proposed order said, noting that the predominant land use within the study area is rangeland and pastureland. The majority of the study area has been impacted by land improvements associated with agriculture, residential structures, roadways, oil and gas activities, and various utility corridors, the proposed order noted.
Noting that the estimated cost for the line along Route C is $20.04m, the proposed order said that the estimated cost of the AEP Texas’ additional station facilities that are required to connect the project at the existing Benjamin substation is about $3.4m, while the estimated cost to build the new Brazos Electric switching station is about $5.7m. The project’s total estimated cost, including the station estimated costs, is about $29.1m, the proposed order said.
The stipulation route is a viable, feasible, and reasonable route from environmental, engineering, and cost perspectives, according to the proposed order.
No parks or recreational areas are crossed by Route C and there are no parks or recreational areas located within 1,000 feet of the centerline of that route. The project is not expected to have a significant impact on parks or recreational areas, the proposed order added.
Route C does not cross any recorded cultural resources sites and comes within 1,000 of three known cultural resource sites, the proposed order said, noting that the route does not cross and is not located within 1,000 feet of any National Register of Historical Places listed property. About 8.68 miles of Route C cross areas of high archeological site potential. The proposed order added that the project is not expected to have a significant impact on historical or archaeological resources.
In the event that the applicants or their respective contractors encounter any artifacts or other cultural resources during project construction, work is to cease immediately in the vicinity of the resource and the discovery is to be reported to the Texas Historical Commission, the proposed order said.
No significant impacts to wetland resources, ecological resources, endangered and threatened species, or land use are anticipated as a result of the construction of the project, the proposed order said.
Among other things, the proposed order said that the applicants are to update the reporting of the project on their monthly construction progress report prior to the start of construction to reflect the final estimated cost and schedule.