The New York State Public Service Commission, in an order issued and effective on June 19, approved – subject to conditions – an additional amendment to National Grid’s certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for the construction and operation of an interconnecting 115/34.5-kV distribution substation and associated 115-kV tap lines – the West Ashville substation project – located in the Town of Harmony, Chautauqua County, N.Y.
As noted in the order, Niagara Mohawk Power d/b/a National Grid is the holder of a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need issued in May 1975 in Case 26573 by the commission under Article VII of the Public Service Law (PSL) for the construction of the 115-kV Finley Road to Falconer Line – now known as the Dunkirk-Falconer Line 160 electric transmission line, or Line 160.
The certificate was amended in October 1977 to allow for a portion – about 1,500 feet – of the facility to be located outside the certified quarter-mile corridor, the commission said, noting that the certificate was again amended in a November 2012 order in Case 12-T-0431 to allow National Grid to replace one double-circuit steel tower on its Dunkirk-Falconer Line 160 with a taller structure in order to comply with applicable requirements of the National Electric Safety Code and to add a clause establishing a process for approval of changes to the environmental management and construction plan (EM&CP).
The commission noted that National Grid in September 2016 submitted an application for amendment of the certificate to allow for the construction of the substation, which would tie into the company’s existing Line 160.
Further discussing the project, the commission said that the company proposes to build the substation and associated tap lines that would tie into its existing 115-kV Dunkirk to Falconer Transmission Line 160 and provide for reinforcement of 34.5-kV distribution Line 863.
The substation would include a single 15/20/25 MVA transformer, a 34.5-kV open-air electrical apparatus suitable for two 34.5-kV sub-transmission lines, a circuit switcher, disconnect switches, instrument transformers, substation AC service transformer, surge arrestors and steel structures on reinforced concrete foundations. The 115-kV tap structures would accommodate switching gear to allow for Line 160 to supply power to the substation from either direction, the commission added.
The proposed size of the West Ashville substation is about 225 feet wide by 163 feet long, and it would be surrounded by a nine-foot fence and surfaced in crushed stone, the commission said. The proposed structures supporting the 115-kV tap conductors would be 3-pole wood H-frames, about 55 feet to 75 feet in height.
The West Ashville substation would be located on a portion of an existing 28-acre parcel – the Patterson Parcel – located west of Swede Road in the Town of Harmony, the commission added, noting that the proposed site is located about 39 miles south of the Dunkirk station. The tap lines, each about 700 feet long, would connect the West Ashville substation with Line 160 between structures 269 and 270.
The portion of the tap lines not located on the Patterson Parcel would be located on National Grid’s existing fee-owned right of way (ROW) for Line 160, the commission added, noting that while the company does not own the Patterson Parcel at this time, it intends to acquire the property in fee, prior to project construction.
Project construction would include the loss of about one acre of agricultural land and there would be no permanent impacts to wetland or stream resources, the commission said.
Noting that construction of the substation is needed to address low voltage issues in the area, the commission said that it finds that “the project is needed, will have generally short-term adverse environmental impact, represents the minimum adverse impact to the environment including impact to agricultural land, farm operations and associated property rights, should not be installed underground, conforms to a long-range electric system plan, conforms to applicable substantive legal requirements (except to the extent described [in the order]), and will serve the public interest, convenience and necessity.”
Discussing the certificate conditions, the commission said, for instance, that National Grid is to implement a Maintenance and Protection of Traffic (MPT) plan that identifies procedures to be used to maintain traffic and provide a safe construction zone for those activities within the roadway ROW. Also, no less than two weeks before beginning project construction activities, the company is to notify the public of the anticipated date that construction will begin.