An Ohio administrative law judge (ALJ) on July 25 said that regulatory staff is to file by Sept. 25 its report of investigation regarding the proposed Pine Ridge Switch-Heppner 138-kV Transmission Line Project.
As noted in the filing submitted to the Ohio Power Siting Board, American Electric Power’s (NYSE:AEP) AEP Ohio Transmission Company (AEP Ohio Transco) filed an application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for the project in late March. The ALJ noted that according to the company, the proposed rebuild of the existing 69-kV transmission line to 138-kV standards would provide the benefit of faster recovery of service after outages, fewer service interruptions, and overall improved service to customers.
As TransmissionHub reported, according to the March 29 application, the project is externally known as the Coal Township 138-kV Transmission Line Project and is part of the overall Ross-Jackson County Area Improvements Project, which has been implemented to improve the reliability of the electric transmission grid in Ross and Jackson counties in Ohio.
The Pine Ridge Switch-Heppner project involves rebuilding 3.6 miles of the existing Berlin-Ross 69-kV transmission line to 138-kV standards. The company added in its application that construction of the project would be phased and is anticipated to begin in fall 2020 and end in spring 2023, with restoration continuing through summer 2023. Upon completion of the new line, the existing 69-kV transmission line is planned to be removed.
The company also said that the purpose of the project is to replace aging equipment with modern structures and wires to improve electric service reliability. The existing Berlin-Ross line was built in 1926, and will be retired and replaced with a new 138-kV transmission line, although it would be initially energized at 69 kV. The benefits of the project include faster recovery of service after outages, fewer service interruptions, and overall improved service to customers, the company added.
The project is located within Coal and Liberty townships in Jackson County. The study corridor for the rebuild siting evaluation does not cross any designated communities or otherwise incorporated municipalities, the company added, noting that the project will require a 100-foot-wide permanent right of way (ROW).
The project’s 3.6-mile preferred route begins at the existing Pine Ridge Switch and proceeds southeast, paralleling the southern edge of the existing Berlin-Ross line ROW through forested and agricultural land uses for about 0.9 mile.
The company added that the preferred route then aligns with the existing 69-kV line before crossing U.S. Highway 35 (US 35) and continuing on the existing centerline for 0.3 mile. After the US 35 crossing, the preferred route continues southeast, paralleling the northern edge of the existing Berlin-Ross line ROW through forested and agricultural land uses for 0.8 mile. The company added that the preferred route then crosses to the southern edge of the existing ROW. The preferred route parallels the southern edge of the existing 69-kV ROW through forested and agricultural land uses and rural residential areas for 1.6 miles before reaching its southern terminus at the proposed Heppner Switch Station, the company said.
The total estimated applicable intangible and capital costs of the preferred route is about $8.4m.
The ALJ, in the July 25 filing, said that a local public hearing in the matter is to be held on Oct. 10 in Jackson, Ohio, while an evidentiary hearing is to begin on Oct. 24 in the offices of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in Columbus, Ohio, the ALJ said.
Each party is to file by Oct. 3 a list of issue(s) citing specific concerns about which they may be interested in pursuing cross-examination of witnesses at the evidentiary hearing. The ALJ also said that all expert and factual testimony to be offered by AEP Ohio Transco is to be filed by Oct. 16, while all expert and factual testimony to be offered by intervenors and staff is to be filed by Oct. 19.