Xcel Energy’s (NYSE:XEL) Southwestern Public Service (SPS), in a May 25 application filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, said that it is proposing to build and operate an approximately 14.59-mile, single-circuit, 230-kV transmission line between the existing TUCO substation and the new Hale Wind Collection substation – that will serve a 478-MW wind generation plant and associated facilities – both located in Hale County, Texas.
SPS noted that in Docket No. 46936, the commission granted a generation certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for the Hale Wind Project, along with the Sagamore Wind Project and the Bonita Wind Energy Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The generation CCN authorizes the construction of the Hale Wind Project, SPS said, adding that to deliver the output of that wind project, a generation tie line is needed to interconnect the Hale Wind collection substation to the SPS transmission system.
The proposed line – or the proposed project – is required to interconnect the Hale Wind Project to the SPS system and would originate at the TUCO substation, located about 0.8 mile southeast from the intersection of Interstate 27 and FM 54, in Hale County. SPS added that the proposed project would terminate at the Hale Wind Collection substation about 1.7 miles northeast of the intersection of FM 400 and County Road 275 in Hale County.
The TUCO substation has been updated for the new 230-kV transmission line, SPS said, noting that the additions at that substation included one new 230-kV breaker; two 230-kV switches; three 230-kV metering class current transformers; three 230-kV potential transformers; as well as associated bus work, relaying, and wiring.
SPS said that it is proposing one route for the proposed project because, for instance, all landowners directly affected have provided their written agreement to the proposed route, and the route represents a forward progressing and relatively direct path from the Hale Wind Collection substation to the TUCO substation.
All landowner agreements regarding the line are currently held by Hale Wind Energy, LLC, and will be assigned to Hale Petersburg Wind, LLC, prior to the closing of an executed purchase and sale agreement (PSA) for 100% equity interest in Hale Petersburg Wind between ESI Energy, LLC, and SPS, dated March 6, 2017 (expected in 2Q18). SPS added that at that time, it will own Hale Petersburg Wind.
The proposed line would be built utilizing primarily single-circuit, concrete monopole structures, SPS said, adding that the proposed line would be built entirely on new right of way (ROW) with a proposed easement width of 150 feet.
About 0.15 mile of the line would have to be built underground because building above ground would require the crossing of existing transmission facilities consisting of five circuits on three sets of structures, SPS said.
The study area is located within the Level IV Llano Estacado ecoregion, which is a sub-division of the Level III High Plains ecoregion, SPS said, adding that the Llano Estacado ecoregion is an elevated plain demarcated by escarpments on three sides, and is categorized as having a very low drainage density, with seasonal rainfall contained within numerous intermittent streams, ponds, or playa lakes. Historically supporting a shortgrass prairie composed of buffalograss, grama, and bluestem species, the Llano Estacado ecoregion has been almost entirely converted into agriculture, SPS said. Land uses are rural in nature, with residences and farms distributed lightly throughout, SPS said, noting that land cover is mostly cultivated farmland and grassland due to re-planting of former cropland.
SPS noted that the proposed route, among other things:
- Runs parallel to existing compatible corridors and property boundaries, excluding pipelines, for 100% of its length
- Does not cross a state or U.S. highway
- Has no cemeteries within 1,000 feet of the ROW centerline
- Has no length of ROW through bottomland/riparian woodlands
- Has no ROW across known habitat of federally listed endangered or threatened species
- Crosses no parks/recreational areas within 1,000 feet of ROW centerline
- Crosses no rivers
The project’s estimated total cost is about $9.4m, consisting of about $9.3m for transmission facilities, and $124,174 for substation facilities, SPS said.