The proposed Timber Road IV 138-kV transmission line is an integral part of the Timber Road IV Wind Farm, and is necessary to transport energy from the wind farm to the electric power grid, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio staff said in its Feb. 15 report of investigation filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB).
Staff 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.
As noted in staff’s report, Paulding Wind Farm IV LLC (Paulding Wind Farm) – a wholly owned subsidiary of EDP Renewables North America LLC (EDPR) – proposes to develop, build, and operate the 138-kV Timber Road IV Transmission Facility in association with the proposed Timber Road IV Wind Farm. Paulding Wind Farm filed its application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need to build the line in Paulding County, Ohio, in October 2018.
The Timber Road IV 138-kV transmission line would be used to deliver 75.9 MW of energy produced by the wind farm to the electric grid. The proposed line would begin at the collection substation and end where it connects to the existing Timber Road III 138-kV transmission line, staff added. The electricity would then be transported on the existing line to the point of interconnection (POI) at the existing Logtown substation.
A 150-foot right of way (ROW) is proposed by Paulding Wind Farm for the line, which would incorporate steel monopole structures for support. Staff added that Paulding Wind Farm also filed a supplement to the application to incorporate an H-frame structure along the Timber Road III transmission line, near the POI, to support metering and turbine voltage control equipment.
The preferred route would be about 2.9 miles long, and Paulding Wind Farm estimates that that route would require about 19 steel pole support structures, ranging in height from 100 feet to 130 feet. Staff added that the route would exit the Timber Road IV Wind Farm collection substation in a straight line east to west direction parallel to the north side of Township Road 52 until it meets the existing Timber Road III 138-kV transmission line. Paulding Wind Farm has secured all transmission line easements for the preferred route.
Staff added that the H-frame structure would not be located along either the preferred route or the alternate transmission line route, but on land between the existing substation that was built as part of the Timber Road II Wind Farm certificate, approved in another case, and the existing American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) Logtown switchyard, approved in a separate case. The new H-frame structure would be a steel structure with a height of 80 feet along the existing Timber Road III transmission line on State Route 114, about 350 feet east of Township Road 27 in Benton Township, Paulding County. The structure would be installed on a parcel that is currently owned by Paulding Wind Farm III LLC, staff added.
Land use in proximity to the proposed facility is predominately agricultural, staff said, adding that temporary disturbances to agricultural land uses would amount to about 18 acres for the preferred route and 40 acres for the alternate route.
The preferred route ROW would cross seven streams, all of which are manmade ditches, staff said, adding that no wetlands, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, or floodplains were identified within the construction corridor of the routes.
While both the preferred and alternate routes are viable, staff has concluded that, when compared to the preferred route, potential impacts are greater along the alternate route, which would require 28.4 more acres of ROW and require an additional 0.9 miles of transmission line infrastructure compared to the preferred route.
Staff added that the preferred route would cost less to build because it is a more direct route from the collection substation to the POI and includes fewer structures.
Staff said that it recommends that the OPSB find that the preferred route represents the minimum adverse environmental impact, provided that any certificate issued by the OPSB include certain conditions.
Staff also said that it recommends that the OPSB find that the proposed facility would serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity, and therefore complies with certain requirements, provided that any certificate issued by the OPSB include certain conditions.
Those conditions include that the facility is to be installed on the preferred route, utilizing the equipment, construction practices, and mitigation measures as presented in the application filed last October, and further clarified by recommendations in the report.
Staff added that another condition calls for the certificate to become invalid if Paulding Wind Farm has not started a continuous course of construction of the proposed facility within five years of the date of journalization of the certificate.
Paulding Wind Farm plans to complete final design work in 1Q19, staff said, noting that construction is anticipated to begin immediately following issuance of the certificate, and would be completed within about six months, around October.
According to the report, a local public hearing has been scheduled for March 5 in Paulding, and an evidentiary hearing will begin on March 19 at the commission’s offices in Columbus, Ohio.