Texas regulatory staff recommend approval of Route J for SPS’ proposed 115-kV line

Public Utility Commission of Texas staff on Dec. 11 recommended that the commission approve Southwestern Public Service’s (SPS) application for construction of about 17.48 miles of a new single-circuit, 115-kV transmission line between the existing Mustang substation near Denver City, Texas, in Yoakum County and the existing Seminole substation in Seminole, Texas, in Gaines County, utilizing proposed Route J.

As noted in the filing, Xcel Energy‘s (NYSE:XEL) SPS in October filed an application to amend its certificate of convenience and necessity to build the line, which would be built using primarily single-circuit, single-pole steel structures. The proposed 10 routes range between 17 miles to 22 miles in length at an estimated cost of about $15.9m to $18.1m.

Staff added that as indicated in an attached memorandum of David Smithson of the commission’s Infrastructure and Reliability Division, staff supports approval of the application and the reasonableness of SPS’ proposed route for certain reasons, including:

  • The project is estimated to cost about $11.3m for transmission facilities, about $3.6m for substation facilities; and about $1.6m to modify existing facilities for a total project cost of about $16.5m, which is within an expected range of cost for this type of project
  • The proposed route ranks fifth shortest – about 975 feet longer than the shortest alternative
  • The proposed route’s impact on the affected community and landowners is expected to be minimal
  • There are only two habitable structures within 300 feet of the centerline of the proposed route
  • There are no federal or state parks, forests/grasslands, wildlife refuges, wildlife management areas, or preserves within the study area
  • There are no known historical or archaeological sites within the study area

Staff said that it requests that SPS be ordered to build the project on the proposed route, subject to the conditions stated in the measures to mitigate construction impacts in Smithson’s memorandum.

According to the memorandum, those conditions include that:

  • In the event that SPS or its contractors encounter any artifacts or other cultural resources during project construction, work is to cease immediately in the vicinity of the resource and the discovery is to be reported to the Texas Historical Commission
  • SPS is to cooperate with directly affected landowners to implement minor deviations in the approved route to minimize the impact of the line
  • SPS is to use best management practices to minimize the potential impact to migratory birds and threatened or endangered species
  • SPS is conduct surveys to identify pipelines that could be affected by the proposed transmission line, if not already completed, and coordinate with pipeline owners in modeling and analyzing potential hazards because of alternating current interference affecting pipelines being paralleled

Staff said that it intends to coordinate with SPS to file a joint motion to admit evidence and proposed notice of approval by Dec. 17.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.