Administrative law judge notes approval of AEP Texas line

The Public Utility Commission of Texas approves the application to amend AEP Texas Central Division’s certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) to build and operate the Rio Hondo to Majadas 345-kV transmission line, according to a Feb. 6 notice of approval signed by an administrative law judge.

As noted in the filing, AEP Texas last November filed its application concerning its proposal to build the line from the existing AEP Texas Rio Hondo switch station to an interconnection point at the proposed Majadas substation that will be owned by Las Majadas Wind Farm, LLC.

In the application, AEP Texas proposed one route, which is about 9.4 miles long. The Feb. 6 filing added that 11 landowners directly affected by the line agreed to the proposed route, and all of them have signed consent agreements with AEP Texas regarding the route.

AEP Texas will build the line as a single-circuit line on single-pole steel structures, the filing said, adding that the typical structure for the line will be 110 to 140 feet in height and require a 150-foot-wide right of way (ROW).

The project will permanently interconnect the Las Majadas wind project to the ERCOT electrical grid through AEP Texas’ transmission system facilities. The filing added that the wind generation facility will have an output capacity of 272.8 MW net at the point of interconnection.

The project cost estimate for the line is about $18.8m, the filing said, noting that the project cost estimate for line termination at the AEP Texas Rio Hondo switch station and for line termination at the proposed Majadas substation is about $3.2m.

The proposed route parallels about 61.2% existing transmission line ROW, railroads, public roads or highways, or apparent property boundaries. The filing also noted that there is one park or recreation area within 1,000 feet of the centerline of the proposed route. The centerline of the proposed route does not cross any park or recreational areas, the filing said, adding that the line will have no adverse impact on parks and recreational areas.

In addition, there are no known historical or archaeological sites crossed by, or within 1,000 feet of, the centerline of the proposed route. The filing added that there is one property listed on the National Register of Historic Places crossed by the centerline of the proposed route. The line will have no significant impact on historical or archaeological areas, the filing said.

Discussing environmental integrity, the filing noted that the proposed route is located within rural portions of Willacy and Cameron counties dominated by pastureland and agricultural fields. The proposed route will cross one stream for 127 feet, cross five irrigation or drainage canals, will parallel irrigation or drainage canals for about 1.2 miles, and will cross such open water as lakes for 53 feet. The filing added that while there are three endangered or threatened plant species of potential occurrence in the counties, expected occurrence of those located in the study area is extremely low.

No impacts are expected to federally listed or proposed federally listed species, the filing said, noting that AEP Texas will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department should any federally listed species be observed during construction.

Under conditional approval, the filing said that seven years is a reasonable and appropriate limit to place on the authority granted in the order to build the project.

Among other things, the filing said that AEP Texas must conduct surveys, if not already completed, to identify pipelines that could be affected by the line and cooperate with pipeline owners in modeling and analyzing potential hazards because of alternating current interference affecting pipelines being paralleled.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 2807 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 13 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 corinar@pennwell.com.