The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB), in a Nov. 15 order, approved a stipulation between AEP Ohio Transmission Company (AEP Ohio Transco) and regulatory staff, and directed that a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need be issued to the company for construction of the Ginger Switch-Vigo 138-kV Transmission Line Project.
As noted in the order, the company seeks certification to build the line in Ross County, between the existing Ginger Switch and Vigo substation; the company proposes to place the line in service in 2Q21.
The order also noted that the project’s proposed right of way (ROW) for the project is 100 feet, and that both routes proposed for the project predominantly utilize the existing 69-kV ROW, thus minimizing the additional ROW needed for the proposed line. There are 116 residences within 1,000 feet of the preferred route centerline, and the nearest residence is located 50 feet from the centerline.
Regulatory staff determined that the preferred route crosses 65 properties and includes 87 acres of proposed ROW area, the order added. About 52% of the preferred route cross agricultural land and open pasture. The order also noted that no negative impacts to commercial or industrial land uses are anticipated because of the project. In addition, the order said that no negative impacts to institutional and recreational land uses are expected from the construction, operation, or maintenance of either the preferred or alternate routes for the project.
As TransmissionHub reported, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio staff, in an Aug. 15 report filed with the OPSB, said that it recommends that the OPSB find that the basis of need for the project has been demonstrated and therefore complies with certain requirements, provided that any certificate issued by the OPSB for the proposed facility include certain conditions.
Staff noted that the preferred route exits the Ginger Switch station to the southeast and follows the southern edge of the existing 69-kV line for about 0.4 miles through agricultural fields. The route then crosses to the northern edge of the Berlin-Ross line traversing through agricultural, forested, and rural residential land for the next 2.7 miles, staff added. The route then adjusts away from the existing alignment for about 0.7 miles in order to avoid residences near Londonderry.
The route continues for another 0.7 miles through agricultural land and then rejoins the existing centerline south of U.S. Route 50, staff added. The route continues on the existing centerline for 0.5 miles, then deviates southeast for 0.2 mile to avoid a structure encroachment.
The route then proceeds southeast, paralleling the southern edge of the existing ROW for 1.3 miles, staff added. For the last 0.7 mile, the route realigns with the centerline of the Berlin-Ross line to the Vigo substation. Portions of construction of the preferred route would require that the existing 69-kV line be taken out of service when work is performed along the centerline, staff added.
Staff noted that the company estimates the applicable intangible and capital costs for the preferred route at about $16.7m.
As noted in the Nov. 15 order, counsel for the company, at a September adjudicatory hearing, presented a stipulation entered into by the company and staff. Under that stipulation, the parties recommend that the OPSB issue the requested certificate, subject to certain conditions, which include that the facility be installed on the preferred route. The conditions also include that unless coordination with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows a different course of action, AEP Ohio Transco is to adhere to seasonal cutting dates of Oct. 1 through March 31 for the removal of trees three inches or greater in diameter.
Among other things, the order said that upon review, the OPSB finds that, as a package, the stipulation benefits the public interest by resolving the issues raised in the matter without resulting in litigation. The stipulation reflects consideration of staff’s recommendations and conditions, the OPSB said in its order, adding, “We find that, based on the evidence of record, the proposed project will help ensure that increased demands for electricity are met in the future, enhance existing reliability service, and increase tax revenue for schools and local government.”