Texas ALJ recommends approval of “Route Mod L” for proposed 138-kV line

A Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings administrative law judge (ALJ), in a Sept. 28 proposal for decision, recommended that the Public Utility Commission of Texas approve Rayburn Country Electric Cooperative’s application concerning a proposed 138-kV, single-circuit transmission line “along Route Mod L.”

As noted in the proposal for decision, Rayburn filed its application with the commission in January to amend its certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for the line in Fannin and Hunt counties in Texas.

The new line would connect a planned substation to be built by Rayburn’s member cooperative, Fannin County Electric Cooperative (FCEC), located on property owned by the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD), southeast of the intersection of County Road (CR) 4965 and U.S. Highway (US) 69, about 1.4 miles from the Leonard city limits near the proposed Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir (LBCR) water treatment plant and related facilities – collectively referred to as the LBCR Treatment Plant substation – to a proposed switch/meter station (LBCR Treatment Plant Switch), located along Oncor Electric Delivery Company’s existing Bonham SWT-Wolfe City 2 SWT 138-kV transmission line on the south side of Farm-to-Market (FM) Road 68, about 0.11 miles east and 0.02 miles south of the intersection of FM 68 and CR 3710.

The ALJ added that Rayburn would own, operate, and maintain all transmission line facilities for the project. Rayburn has acquired the LBCR Treatment Plant Switch property – about 4.5 acres – and would own, operate, and maintain all facilities associated with the LBCR Treatment Plant Switch where the new 138-kV line would connect to Oncor’s existing Bonham SWT-Wolfe City 2 SWT 138-kV transmission line.

The project is needed to supply wholesale power to a delivery point at the new LBCR Treatment Plant substation, the ALJ said, adding that the project is one of two projects associated with NTMWD’s reservoir, and that no party challenged the need for the project.

The project is needed due to the projected load requirements for NTMWD’s water treatment plant, the ALJ said, noting that the project would supply wholesale power to a delivery point at the new LBCR Treatment Plant substation to be built and owned by FCEC, which will be used to serve NTMWD’s water treatment plant and related facilities associated with NTMWD’s proposed reservoir.

The reservoir will ensure North Texas has an additional, reliable supply of water to meet its near-term needs through 2025 – including during drought and other reduced-availability conditions – and to provide for a portion of its projected long-term water needs through 2060, the ALJ noted.

The LBCR Treatment Plant substation will be located within FCEC’s singly-certificated service area, on property owned by NTMWD, the ALJ said.

Rayburn identified 15 primary alternative routes – Routes A-O – in its application, the ALJ added, noting that the intervenors in the proceeding identified two additional routes – Route Mod L and Route Mod L-23A. Rayburn initially identified Route L as the route that best meets the statutory and commission routing criteria. The ALJ also said that Route Mod L presents similar advantages and has substantial community support.

Route Mod L, the ALJ said, would:

  • Be 12.98 miles long
  • Cost about $9.2m
  • Have the third-fewest habitable structures – tied with Route K – within 300 feet of the right of way (ROW) centerline – 16
  • Parallel NTMWD’s proposed water pipeline for 3.69 miles
  • Cross 5.43 miles of cropland
  • Cross 6.9 miles of pastureland/rangeland

The ALJ noted that Route L, which Rayburn identified as the route that best addresses the commission’s routing criteria:

  • Is the shortest route at 12.65 miles
  • Is the cheapest route at an estimated cost of about $8.8m
  • Impacts the fourth-fewest habitable structures within 300 feet of the ROW centerline – 17
  • Has the second-greatest length of ROW paralleling NTWMD’s proposed water pipeline – 7.63 miles

No route for the project, including Route Mod L, would have a significant impact on the use or enjoyment of a park or recreational area, the ALJ said. Also, all of the routes would have a similar aesthetic impact, the ALJ said, noting that any negative impact on cultural, historical, or aesthetic values of building the project on Route Mod L would be similar to that of building the project on any other proposed route, except that Route Mod L, for instance, limits the impact on the majority of intervenors in the docket.

In addition, none of the identified routes has ROW through known occupied habitat of federally listed endangered or threatened species. The project would cause only short-term impacts to soil, water, and ecological resources, the ALJ added, noting that all of the primary alternative routes, as well as Route Mod L, for instance, are environmentally acceptable and satisfy certain criteria.

Among other things, the ALJ said the authority granted by the order is limited to a period of seven years from the date the order is signed unless, before then, the line is commercially energized.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 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.