Texas ALJs recommend approval of Oncor’s proposed 345-kV project

Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) administrative law judges (ALJs), in an Aug. 2 proposal for decision, recommended that the Public Utility Commission of Texas approve Oncor Electric Delivery Company’s proposed route 1180, with modifications on Links E1, F1, and J1, in relation to a 345-kV, double-circuit transmission line that the company has proposed.

As noted in the proposal for decision, Oncor in March filed an application with the commission to amend its certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for the line in Crane, Ector, Loving, Reeves, Ward, and Winkler counties in Texas. The project involves two lines designated as the Odessa EHV-Riverton line and the Moss-Riverton line.

The ALJs added that the facilities include construction of a new 345-kV, double-circuit transmission line on double-circuit lattice steel tower structures, with one circuit extending from Oncor’s existing Odessa EHV switching station in Ector County (Odessa EHV) to Oncor’s Riverton switching station that is under construction in Reeves County (Riverton). The second circuit extends from Oncor’s Moss switching station in Ector County (Moss) to Riverton, the ALJs said, noting that the project also involves station work at Odessa EHV, Moss, and Riverton, including work necessary to terminate the project.

ERCOT approved the Odessa EHV-Riverton line and the Moss-Riverton line. The ALJs added that as stated in the application and testimony, the project is needed to serve rapidly growing area load – primarily due to oil- and gas-related uses in that area of West Texas known as the Delaware Basin – as well as to prevent future thermal and voltage violations on the existing 138-kV transmission lines serving the area.

The ALJs noted that both circuits of the project would be built together on new double-circuit, 345-kV lattice steel towers within a 160-foot right of way (ROW), except that:

  • Link A and portions of Link A4 for the Odessa EHV-Riverton line would use upgraded or rebuilt structures within existing transmission ROW where structures with a vacant circuit position currently exist
  • Link MA or Link MA4 for the Moss-Riverton line – depending on the route selected – would use upgraded or rebuilt structures within existing transmission ROW where structures with a vacant circuit position currently exist

The ALJs noted that depending on the route selected, Oncor has already acquired between 11.9% and 14.6% of the necessary ROW.

The application’s recommended Route 1180 is about 116.3 miles long and costs about $199.7m, excluding station costs, the ALJs said.

Route 1180 was the only supported route at hearing and in post-hearing briefing and as a result, the routing analysis in the proposal for decision is limited to that route. The ALJs added that Route 1180:

  • Is about 16.8 miles shorter than the longest alternative route and six miles longer than the shortest alternative route
  • Is about $24.9m less than the most expensive alternative route and about $10.1m more than the least expensive route
  • Has no habitable structures within the proposed ROW
  • Has 110 habitable structures reported to be within 500 feet of its centerline, which is 15 fewer than the route with the most habitable structures within 500 feet, and four more than the route with the least number of habitable structures within 500 feet. Of those 110 habitable structures, 106 habitable structures are included due to their proximity to Oncor’s existing transmission line that will be rebuilt to accommodate the project
  • Parallels existing compatible ROW and apparent property boundaries for about 59.2% of its length, which is more than the 34.8% of the route least frequently paralleling compatible corridors and 7.7% less than the route most frequently paralleling compatible corridors
  • Is the recommended selection of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as the route having the least potential to impact fish and wildlife resources

The ALJs also noted that Route 1180 would likely allow Oncor to connect the line to Oncor’s Wolf switching station through a transmission line less than one mile in length, avoiding the need to file an additional CCN application for that purpose.

Every party in the proceeding either accepted or did not oppose Route 1180 – with some support subject to proposed route modifications – and no party introduced any evidence or argument at the hearing advocating for selection of a different route, the ALJs said.

Among other things, the ALJs said that the authority granted by the order is limited to a period of seven years from the date that the order is signed unless, before then, the line is commercially energized. Also, the ALJs said that in the event that Oncor encounters any archaeological artifacts or other cultural resources during project construction, work is to cease immediately in the vicinity of the resource, and Oncor is to report the discovery to the Texas Historical Commission. Furthermore, the ALJs said that Oncor is to use best management practices to minimize the potential impact to migratory birds, as well as threatened or endangered species.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3061 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.