LCRA Transmission Services Corporation (TSC) on May 31 filed with the Public Utilities Commission of Texas an application to amend its certificate of convenience and necessity for the Cooks Point 138-kV Transmission Line Project – referred to as the proposed project – in Burleson County, Texas.
LCRA TSC said that following approval from the commission, and LCRA TSC’s construction and energization of the proposed project, LCRA TSC anticipates that Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative (BBEC) would acquire an ownership interest in the proposed project – not to exceed a 50% undivided equity interest – subject to any and all necessary regulatory approvals.
In conjunction with the proposed project, Bryan Texas Utilities (BTU) will separately build a new 138-kV transmission line from BTU’s existing Steele Shore substation to the new Cooks Point substation, in order to accomplish looped transmission service to the area to be served by the proposed project. LCRA TSC added that if completed before Sept. 1, 2021, BTU’s 138-kV transmission line project would not be subject to the commission’s certification jurisdiction.
LCRA TSC said that the new, single-circuit line – the proposed project – would connect the new load-serving electric substation located in the vicinity of the Cooks Point community in northern Burleson County – near the intersection of State Highway (SH) 21 and Farm-to-Market (FM) 1362 – to either the existing BBEC Lyle Wolz substation or BBEC Lyons substation, depending on the route approved for the project.
Further discussing the proposed project’s need, LCRA TSC said that the new Cooks Point substation and associated transmission line would avoid, for the near-term transmission planning horizon, the need for BBEC to rebuild the 11.5-mile, 138-kV Gay Hill-Lyons transmission line by 2023, which ERCOT identified as a reliability project in the 2017 Regional Transmission Plan report.
The entire project would be about 17 miles to 23 miles long, depending on the final route approved. LCRA TSC also said that it would install new transmission equipment at the new Cooks Point substation, as well as at either the Lyle Wolz substation or Lyons substation.
LCRA TSC noted that it would design, procure, build, operate, and maintain all transmission line facilities, including conductors, wires, structures, hardware, and rights of way (ROW). LCRA TSC would also design, operate, build, and maintain the transmission facilities at the new proposed electric load-serving Cooks Point substation, where the north end of the new line would be connected.
To connect each end of the new line to the existing electric grid, LCRA TSC would install terminal equipment at the existing BBEC Lyle Wolz substation or at the existing BBEC Lyons substation, depending upon the route approved, LCRA TSC said.
The proposed project area includes the City of Caldwell and portions of some unincorporated communities, including Lyons, Cooks Point, Harmony, Birch, Hogg, Chriesman, Center Line, Tunis, Frenstat, San Antonio Prairie, Davidson, and Deanville.
LCRA TSC also said that land in the area of the proposed project is subject to a variety of uses, including commercial and residential development, particularly in and near Caldwell; scattered rural residential areas; transportation facilities; railroads; parks and recreation areas; rural agricultural areas; pastureland; woodlands; as well as a significant amount of petroleum and natural gas infrastructure associated with the Eagle Ford and Woodbine shale formations.
The proposed project area is situated within the Blackland Prairie and Oak Woods and Prairies physiographic regions of Texas. The region’s topography is characterized as gently rolling to nearly level in some areas and as hilly in other areas, LCRA TSC added, noting that the area is interspersed by drainages and small creeks that ultimately flow into the Brazos River, which forms the eastern edge of Burleson County.
Noting that it retained URS Corp., to prepare the environmental assessment (EA), LCRA TSC said that it identified Route 7 as the primary alternative route that it believes best addresses certain requirements and rules. LCRA TSC noted that Route 7, for instance:
- Has the lowest estimated cost of the 26 primary alternative routes included in the application – about $35.2m
- Is generally consistent with the route preferences indicated by Caldwell and Burleson County in resolutions passed in support of the proposed project, an expression of community values
- Has the third shortest length of the 26 primary alternative routes included in the application – about 17.8 miles, and is 0.7 mile longer than the shortest route
- Parallels and is adjacent to existing corridors for about 85% of its total estimated length – 15.1 miles of 17.8 miles
- Traverses potential endangered species – Houston Toad – habitat for 0.4 mile
- Does not cross any recorded cultural resources sites and has two additional recorded cultural resources sites located within 1,000 feet of the route centerline
Among other things, LCRA TSC said that primary alternative route 7 has 42 habitable structures within 300 feet of the centerline – primary alternative routes 15 and 23 have the lowest at 19 each, while primary alternative route 5 has the most at 63.
According to the estimated schedule, ROW and land acquisition would start in October 2019, and be completed in December 2020; engineering and design would start in July 2019, and be completed in April 2020; material and equipment procurement would start in August 2019, and be completed in March 2021; construction of facilities would start in June 2020, and be completed in May 2021, which is also when the facilities would be energized.