LCRA Transmission Services Corporation (TSC) and AEP Texas Inc., on Nov. 7 filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas a joint application to amend their certificates of convenience and necessity (CCN) for the Bakersfield to Solstice 345-kV Transmission Line Project in Pecos County, Texas.
LCRA TSC and AEP Texas would hold separate 50% ownership interests in the project, which would connect the LCRA TSC Bakersfield station, which is located about six miles north of Interstate Highway (IH) 10 and one mile west of Farm-to-Market (FM) Road 1901, and the AEP Texas Solstice switch station, which is located along IH-10, about 29 miles west of the City of Fort Stockton and near Hovey Road.
The companies added that LCRA TSC would build, own, operate, and maintain the eastern half of the line connecting to its Bakersfield station, and that AEP Texas would build, own, operate, and maintain the western half of the transmission line connecting to its Solstice switch station. The AEP Texas Solstice switch station is a 138-kV station and would be expanded for a 345-kV station yard in a ring bus configuration. The companies also said that the new 345-kV station would be interconnected to the 138-kV station through two 600 MVA 345/138-kV autotransformers and a 50 Mvar reactor in conjunction with the project will be added in the expanded station.
The project’s dividing point would be determined following the commission’s approval of the final line route.
The companies added that the ERCOT Board of Directors in June 2017 endorsed construction of the project as a double-circuit-capable, 345-kV transmission line with an initial single circuit installed from Bakersfield to Solstice. Last June, in response to accelerating and increasing demand growth in the region, the board endorsed expanding the project to include installation of the second circuit at the time of construction and determined that the project was critical to the reliability of the ERCOT system.
Discussing the need for the project, the companies said that the project and associated station work was reviewed by stakeholders and endorsed by ERCOT through the ERCOT Regional Planning Group (RPG) project review process, as part of the Far West Texas Project and the Far West Texas 2 Project. ERCOT performed power flow studies as part of the ERCOT RPG process and found voltage, as well as thermal violations under the NERC Standard TPL-001-4 reliability criteria. ERCOT recommended the project as one of the components that would provide the most effective solution to meet reliability needs and provide infrastructure to accommodate future load growth, the companies added.
The project has also received approval by the ERCOT Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and the ERCOT board. The companies added that the electric utilities principally serving load in West Texas – Oncor, AEP Texas, and Texas New Mexico Power – continue to experience load growth in their respective service areas due to oil and natural gas production, mid-stream processing, and associated economic expansion in the area referred to as the Delaware Basin.
In order to meet that need, the new Sand Lake to Solstice 345-kV Electric Transmission Line Project (PUC Docket No. 48785) in Pecos, Reeves, and Ward counties is being proposed by Oncor and AEP Texas to connect Oncor’s Sand Lake switch, located in Ward County, to AEP Texas’ Solstice switch, located in Pecos County. In addition, the companies are proposing to build the Bakersfield to Solstice line to meet the region’s needs.
“ERCOT’s endorsement and critical designation confirms the multiple operational and reliability needs for the project, and highlights the necessity for the 345-kV facilities to be placed in-service as soon as possible,” the companies added.
The project would consist of about 68 to 92 total miles of right of way (ROW) and as it would be double-circuit, it would result in about 130 to 190 miles of circuit. The companies added that the typical ROW for the project would be 150 feet in width; none of the ROW has been acquired.
The project area is primarily rural with a variety of scattered land uses including commercial and residential development, transportation facilities, parks and recreation areas, rural agricultural areas, oil and gas developments, and wind energy production. The companies also said that the project area is situated within the southern portion of the High Plains, the northwest portion of the Edwards Plateau, and the southeast portion of the Basin and Range physiographic region of Texas.
LCRA TSC and AEP Texas noted that they retained POWER Engineers to prepare an environmental assessment (EA). Upon evaluation of the primary alternative routes, LCRA TSC and AEP Texas selected Route 24 as the primary alternative route that they believe best addresses certain requirements. The companies added that Route 24 was identified based, in part, on such considerations as that it:
- Has the highest percentage paralleling and adjacent to existing corridors for about 86% of its total estimated length – 61.5 miles of 71.1 miles
- Has the fourth shortest length – along with Route 4 – of the 25 primary alternative routes included in the application – about 71.1 miles – and is 3.3 miles longer than the shortest route
- Has the fourth lowest cost of the 25 primary alternative routes included in the application – about $156m
- Has a relatively lower habitable structure count of five
- Has a relatively low overall aesthetic impact
- Crosses two recorded cultural resource sites and has two additional recorded resources sites located within 1,000 feet of the centerline
- Has 34 pipeline crossings
According to the estimated schedule, for LCRA TSC, ROW and land acquisition would begin in May 2019 and be completed in October 2019; engineering and design would begin in June 2019 and be completed in November 2019; material and equipment procurement would begin this December and be completed in February 2020; and construction of the facilities would begin in December 2019 and be completed in December 2020, which is also when the facilities would be energized.
For AEP Texas, ROW and land acquisition would also begin in May 2019 and be completed in October 2019; engineering and design would begin in May 2019 and be completed in December 2019; material and equipment procurement would begin in June 2019 and be completed in February 2020; and construction of the facilities would begin in January 2020 and be completed in December 2020, which is also when the facilities would be energized.