AEP Ohio Transmission Company (AEP Ohio Transco) and Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) staff on Oct. 11 filed a stipulation with the OPSB, recommending that the OPSB issue a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for construction and operation of the Vigo-Pine Ridge Switch 138-kV Transmission Line Project, subject to certain conditions.
As noted in the stipulation, the company plans to rebuild to 138-kV standards about 10.3 miles of the existing Berlin-Ross 69-kV transmission line in Jackson Township, Ross County, Ohio, as well as Jackson and Liberty townships, Jackson County, Ohio.
Once completed, the new line would replace the existing Berlin-Ross line, which has been in service since 1926, and serves areas within Ross and Jackson counties. The stipulation added that the 69-kV line, consisting of wood H-frame structures, would be taken out of service, and that the new 138-kV line would operate at 69 kV until 138-kV standards would be needed to serve customer load.
The goal of the project is to modernize and improve the reliability of the company’s transmission system in Ross and Jackson counties, the stipulation said, noting that the project would enhance service for customers, decrease power interruptions, and speed recovery of service when outages occur.
The project would extend from the existing Vigo substation to the existing Pine Ridge Switch. The stipulation also said that a combination of steel structures is proposed for the project, and that most of the project would be composed of tangent, H-Frame structures. Structures are anticipated to average 100 feet tall.
The stipulation also noted that adequate data on the proposed project has been provided to the OPSB to determine that the preferred route, if conditioned in the certificate as recommended by the parties, represents the minimum adverse environmental impact, considering the available technology and nature, as well as economics of the various alternatives.
As TransmissionHub reported, the company’s preferred route for the project is about 10.3 miles long and predominantly parallels either the northern or southern edge of the existing Berlin-Ross line ROW. The new line would be offset by about 25 feet to 50 feet from the centerline of the existing 69-kV line in order to allow the existing line to remain in service during construction, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio staff added in a Sept. 18 report filed with the OPSB.
The preferred route exits the Vigo Switch substation and follows the existing 69-kV line along the southern edge of the ROW for about 2.1 miles. Staff also said that the preferred route then crosses the existing Berlin-Ross line to the northern edge of ROW and continues for about 1.8 miles to the southeast. The preferred route then aligns with the alternate route – centerline of the Berlin-Ross line – near County Road 27 – Bronx Corner Road – and continues southeast for about 1.2 miles.
Staff added that the preferred route makes one adjustment away from the centerline in order to avoid an outbuilding, located just south of U.S. 35. The preferred route continues along the southern edge of ROW for the existing Berlin-Ross line for about 5.2 miles southeast to the existing Pine Ridge Switch.
Staff recommended that the facility be installed on the company’s preferred route, utilizing the equipment, construction practices, and mitigation measures as presented in the application filed in March, and further clarified by recommendations in the report.
Staff also said that the company estimates the applicable intangible and capital costs for the preferred route at about $20.7m.
According to the stipulation, recommended conditions of the certificate include that the facility be installed on the company’s preferred route, utilizing the equipment, construction practices, and mitigation measures as presented in the March application, and further clarified by recommendations in the staff report.
Another recommended condition calls for the company to conduct a preconstruction conference prior to the start of any construction activities.
In addition, the stipulation noted that another recommended condition calls for the certificate to become invalid if the company has not started a continuous course of construction of the proposed facility within five years of the date of journalization of the certificate
Among other things, the recommended conditions call for the company to adhere to seasonal cutting dates of Oct. 1 through March 31 for removal of any trees greater than or equal to three inches in diameter, unless coordination efforts with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allow a different course of action.