Sharyland Utilities, L.P., and the City of Lubbock, acting by and through Lubbock Power & Light (LP&L), on Sept. 6 filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas a joint application for a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for the proposed Ogallala to Abernathy 345-kV Transmission Line in Castro, Hale, and Swisher counties in Texas (Docket No. 48625).
As noted in the application, LP&L in September 2017 filed an application in Docket No. 47576 requesting commission authorization to transition a portion of its system and load from the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) to ERCOT because LP&L’s wholesale power contract with Southwestern Public Service (SPS) will expire May 31, 2021. Therefore, LP&L needs a new source of wholesale power supply in place by June 1, 2021 in order to serve about 470 MW of load.
The application added that the project is one of several upcoming projects that are necessary to implement the commission’s final order in Docket No. 47576. The commission in March approved LP&L’s proposal to transition a large portion of its system from the SPP grid to the ERCOT grid under a transmission interconnection plan developed by ERCOT, known as Option 4ow. The 345-kV Ogallala to Abernathy single-circuit line on double-circuit structures, as well as modifications at the Ogallala and Abernathy stations – i.e., this project – were specifically identified as new transmission facilities required by Option 4ow, the application added.
The commission determined that, under the terms of its order, including the selection of Option 4ow as the transmission integration solution, the transition is in the public interest. The commission also designated Sharyland and LP&L – referred to as the joint applicants – to provide the transmission facilities needed to interconnect LP&L’s system to ERCOT. The application also said that the project is an important part of the infrastructure needed to ensure that the LP&L system can safely and reliably interconnect to, and operate in, ERCOT.
While LP&L and Sharyland expect to be joint applicants for all of the CCN applications related to the overall integration of LP&L into ERCOT, for the line that is the subject of the joint application, the line would be built and owned by Sharyland.
The joint applicants are proposing the project as a single-circuit line on double-circuit-capable structures in Castro, Hale, and Swisher counties, the application added. The project would connect Sharyland’s existing Ogallala station, located southeast of the city of Nazareth, Texas, in Castro County, to Sharyland’s existing Abernathy station, located north of the city of Abernathy, Texas, in Hale County. The project would be about 56 miles to 66 miles long, depending on the route approved by the commission, the application added, noting that the project would be erected utilizing a combination of monopole and lattice structures within a typical right of way (ROW) averaging 175 feet wide, depending on the location.
The majority of the study area is in a rural setting with the exception of the areas associated with Abernathy, Hale Center, Plainview, and Tulia. Land use within the study area is predominantly cropland, the application added, noting that most habitable structures in the area are associated with rural farm/ranch properties, which would be considered low-intensity development. Portions of the cities of Hale Center and Tulia are composed of medium-intensity residential and commercial development. The application added that no areas of high-intensity development exist in the study area.
Noting that the joint applicants’ routing consultant POWER Engineers evaluated 24 alternative routes for the proposed line, the application said that the joint applicants selected Alternative Route 4 as the route that they believe best addresses certain requirements.
As noted in the filing, the 57.85-mile Alternative Route 4 has an estimated total cost of $96.2m – that is, about $87.9m for the “T-Line,” about $1.9m for the Ogallala station, and about $6.4m for the Abernathy station.
Alternative Route 4 is tied with four other proposed routes as the fifth shortest route; is the sixth least expensive route; has the third fewest habitable structures (13) within 500 feet of its centerline; as well as parallels existing transmission line ROW, other existing compatible ROW, and apparent property lines for about 93% of its total length, having the greatest length (47.3 miles) of all the routes parallel to other existing compatible ROW.
Among other things, the filing also noted that Alternative Route 4 crosses no parks, recreational areas, upland or bottomland, and/or riparian woodlands, or open water. In addition, that route has no recorded historic, prehistoric, National Register-listed or determined-eligible sites, or cemeteries within 1,000 feet of its centerline, the filing noted.
According to the estimated schedule, ROW and land acquisition would begin in September 2019 and be completed in September 2020; engineering and design would begin in May 2019 and be completed in March 2020; material and equipment procurement would begin in September 2019 and be completed in December 2020; and construction of the facilities would begin in March 2020 and be completed in June 2021, which is when the facilities would be energized.