American Electric Power’s (NYSE:AEP) AEP Ohio Transmission Company (AEP Ohio Transco) and the Ohio Power Siting Board staff – collectively referred to as the parties – recently filed with the OPSB a stipulation intended to resolve all matters pertinent to the company’s proposed Bell Ridge-Devola 138-kV Transmission Line Project.
The parties recommend that the OPSB issue a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for construction and operation of the project, subject to certain conditions, according to the filing.
As noted in the filing, the company plans to build the approximately 10-mile line between the proposed Bell Ridge substation and the proposed Devola substation in Lawrence, Fearing, and Muskingum townships in Washington County, Ohio.
The proposed project is one component of AEP Ohio Transco’s overall Southeast Ohio Area Improvements Program, the filing noted, adding that much of southeastern Ohio is served by an extensive and aging 23-kV distribution system, which has experienced poor reliability in recent years and cannot reliably serve the anticipated future load growth in the area.
The purpose of the project and the overall program is to modernize the area’s transmission network, improve local service for customers, support economic development, and speed recovery of service when outages occur, the filing said.
A combination of steel structures is proposed for the project, and structure type would vary based on topography, with all proposed structures anticipated to average 80 feet tall, the filing said.
The record establishes that the proposed project, if conditioned in the certificate as recommended by the parties, represents the minimum adverse environmental impact, considering the state of available technology, as well as the nature and economics of the various alternatives, the filing noted.
Among other things, the filing said that the recommended conditions of the certificate include that the facility is to be installed on the company’s preferred route.
As TransmissionHub reported, according to a Public Utilities Commission of Ohio staff May report filed with the OPSB, the preferred route, which is about 10.2 miles long, begins at the proposed Bell Ridge substation and runs south for about 0.3 mile to the existing AEP Ohio Transco 23-kV transmission line. The route then runs for about 6.9 miles west/southwest until it reaches Lynch Church Road. Staff added that the route then travels northwest 0.2 mile, then southwest 0.1 mile, before continuing west for another 1.9 miles. The route continues west for 0.4 mile, crossing over U.S. Route 77 and Mill Creek Road, before turning northwest and terminating at the proposed Devola substation, staff added.
AEP Ohio Transco proposes to place the $12.3m line in service in fall 2020, staff said.
According to the stipulation filing, other recommended conditions include that the company conduct a preconstruction conference prior to the start of any construction activities. Also, the certificate is to become invalid if the company has not commenced a continuous course of construction of the proposed facility within five years of the date of journalization of the certificate. The filing added that another condition calls for the company to adhere to seasonal cutting dates of Oct. 1 through March 31 for removal of any trees greater than or equal to three inches in diameter, unless coordination efforts with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows a different course of action.