Southwestern Public Service (SPS) and Public Utility Commission of Texas staff on July 17 filed with the commission a joint proposed notice of approval regarding SPS’ application to amend a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for a proposed 230-kV transmission line within Hale County.
As noted in the filing, SPS filed the application with the commission in late May, there were no interventions in the proceeding, and there are no contested issues of law or fact. The filing also noted that commission staff on July 16 filed with the commission a pleading recommending approval of SPS’ application.
In that July 16 filing, commission staff said that it recommends that the application be approved using the company proposed route, subject to the conditions stated in the “Measures to Mitigate Construction Impacts” in a July 16 memorandum from David Smithson, Infrastructure and Reliability Division, to Heath Armstrong, Legal Division.
Those conditions, according to the memorandum, include that in the event that SPS or its contractors encounter any artifacts or other cultural resources during project construction, work is to cease immediately in the vicinity of the resource and the discovery is to be reported to the Texas Historical Commission.
According to the July 17 joint proposed notice of approval, SPS proposes to build the 230-kV transmission line that would connect the existing TUCO substation and the new Hale Wind collection substation, which will serve a 478-MW wind generation plant and associated facilities – the Hale Wind Project – for which SPS has received generation CCN approval.
The proposed transmission line project was identified by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) as a requirement of a Generator Interconnection Agreement (GIA) between the SPP, SPS, and Hale Wind Energy, LLC, which is a wind energy developer and subsidiary of ESI Energy, LLC. The Hale Wind Project is the subject of that GIA, the joint proposed notice of approval added.
A Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) was executed in 1Q18 between SPS and ESI Energy – which is a subsidiary of NextEra Resources, LLC – for the Hale Wind Project. The filing also said that the PSA closed on June 15, and that as of that closing, all agreements associated with the Hale Wind Project were assigned to SPS or Hale Petersburg Wind LLC, which is an entity in which SPS now has 100% equity interest.
To deliver the output of the Hale Wind Project, a generation tie line is needed to interconnect the Hale Wind collection substation to the SPS transmission system – the proposed transmission line project is that interconnection, the filing noted.
The new 230-kV transmission line would extend generally north and east, beginning at the existing TUCO substation, and terminating at the new Hale Wind collection substation. The filing added that the existing TUCO substation – which was previously upgraded to accommodate the new 230-kV line – is located about 0.8 mile southeast from the intersection of Interstate 27 and FM 54, while the new Hale Wind collection substation would be located about 1.7 miles northeast of the intersection of FM 400 and County Road 275.
SPS proposed only one route in the application, the filing added, noting that the route is about 14.59 miles long. The line would be built using primarily single-circuit, self-supporting, single-pole concrete structures within new right of way (ROW).
About 0.15 mile of the line would be built underground because building above ground would require the crossing of existing transmission facilities consisting of five circuits on three sets of structures, the filing added, noting that the adjustments necessary for those overhead crossings with single pole structures were determined to not be economically feasible.
The project’s estimated total cost is about $9.4m, consisting of about $9.3m for transmission facilities and $124,174 for substation facilities.
Among other things, the filing also noted that there are no habitable structures located within 300 feet of the proposed ROW centerline; there are no recreation or park areas crossed or within 1,000 feet of the centerline of the proposed route; the proposed line would have minimal impact on historical and archaeological values; and the proposed line would have no significant impact on local wildlife.
In a July 13 filing submitted to the commission, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) said, in part, that since there was only one route presented in the project’s environmental assessment and route analysis (EA), it is unable to recommend a preferred route. TPWD said that it supports SPS’ implementation of the mitigation measures listed in the EA regarding threatened and endangered species, as well as other fish and wildlife resources.
As TPWD noted, SPS selected a single route to be evaluated in the EA because all landowners directly affected by the proposed line have provided written agreement to the proposed route; the route represents a forward progressing and relatively direct path from the Hale Wind collection substation to the TUCO substation; and the route meets the applicable criteria of the Public Utility Regulatory Act and the Texas Administrative Code.