Kentucky regulators extend time in which they must issue decision on 345-kV line

The Kentucky Public Service Commission, in an April 5 order, extended the time – to 120 days – in which it must issue a decision in a case involving a 345-kV electric transmission line proposed by Big Rivers Electric Corporation (Big Rivers).  

As noted in the order, Big Rivers in March filed with the commission an application requesting a certificate of public convenience and necessity to build the line in Hancock County, Ky.

The proposed project – which is part of the 2015 Midcontinent ISO (MISO) Transmission Expansion Plan – would be about 31 miles long extending from the Big Rivers’ Coleman Extra High Voltage (EHV) substation in Hancock to the Duff substation located in Dubois County, Ind., the commission said in its order.

The Kentucky portion of the proposed line would be about 3.3 miles long, the commission said.

As noted in the March application, the total cost of the Kentucky portion from the Coleman EHV substation to the Indiana state line, including the purchase price of the necessary easements in Kentucky, is estimated to be $6m, with Big Rivers expecting to finance the proposed construction through the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In its order, the commission said that it is required to “issue its decision no later than ninety (90) days after the application is filed, unless the commission extends this period, for good cause, to one hundred twenty (120) days.”

Due to the nature of the case and the issues involved, the commission said that it finds that good cause exists in the matter to warrant such an extension.

As noted in Big Rivers’ application, the purpose of the proposed line is to relieve transmission line congestion in southern Indiana and western Kentucky.

The line was awarded to Republic Transmission, LLC as the “selected developer,” Big Rivers said in its application, adding that Republic is owned by an affiliate of LS Power Associates, L.P., and Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc.

Big Rivers noted that it and Republic have entered into an asset purchase agreement (APA) that provides the terms upon which Big Rivers would participate in the construction of the Kentucky portion of the project, and eventually own, operate, and maintain the Kentucky portion.

Big Rivers also said that it seeks a finding by the commission that commission approval is not required for Big Rivers to enter into and perform the APA, or any of the agreements attached as exhibits to the APA, or in the alternative, granting commission approval of those documents.

Under the APA, upon completion of the construction, energization of the MISO Project, and acceptance by MISO of the MISO Project, Big Rivers would acquire the Kentucky portion at Republic’s cost, currently estimated to be $6m, Big Rivers said.

Big Rivers is entitled to recover its costs of the Kentucky portion through the transmission revenue requirement for its MISO Attachment O tariff, subject to certain limitations imposed by the selected developer agreement between Republic and MISO, as well as the terms of the APA and the project ownership and operation agreement, Big Rivers said.

The route for the Kentucky portion begins at Big Rivers’ Coleman EHV substation, which is located about 1.8 miles west-northwest of the Century Aluminum smelter and 1.6 miles west of Big Rivers’ idled Coleman power plant, Big Rivers said.

From that substation, the line section would extend northward about 3.3 miles to the Kentucky-Indiana boundary, near the Indiana bank of the Ohio River, Big Rivers said, adding that it is requesting approval to build and acquire the Kentucky portion based upon the demonstrated need for the entire MISO Project, as well as the benefits that would be realized by Big Rivers and its members.

Big Rivers noted that the project would completely mitigate the congestion on the MISO system around the Newtonville, Ind., and Coleman areas, as well as strengthen the 345-kV backbone in the region. Big Rivers also noted that it would have increased ability to import and export electrical power due to reduced congestion. Furthermore, Big Rivers said that its anticipated return on its investment in the Kentucky portion could serve as an offset to future rate increases for its members.

The Kentucky portion requires a right of way (ROW) ranging in width from 150 feet to 210 feet, Big Rivers said, adding that about 0.9 miles of the recommended route extending from the Coleman EHV substation would be greenfield construction requiring new ROW. The remaining 2.4 miles of the recommended route would parallel an existing Big Rivers 161-kV transmission line and would overlap existing ROW, Big Rivers said; about 65 feet of additional ROW would be required along the west side of the existing 161-kV transmission line ROW.

Among other things, Big Rivers added that the line would typically be built using two-pole steel structures for tangent structures, as well as three pole steel for angle structures and large angled dead-end structures.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 2988 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.