The Public Utility Commission of Texas, in a Feb. 13 final order, amended certain certificates of convenience and necessity (CCNs) of Electric Transmission Texas (ETT) to include the construction and operation of the Stewart Road 345-kV Transmission Line in Hidalgo County.
As noted in the order, ETT in February 2018 filed an application to amend its CCNs for authority to build, own, and operate the double-circuit line, which will connect AEP Texas Inc.’s Stewart Road substation, as expanded, to an interconnection point along ETT’s portion of the existing North Edinburg-to-Palmito 345-kV transmission line. ETT and Sharyland Utilities each own half of the North Edinburg-to-Palmito 345-kV line, the commission said. AEP Texas owns and operates the North Edinburg substation; ETT owns and operates the western half of the line; and Sharyland Utilities owns and operates the Palmito substation, as well as the eastern half of the line.
The commission also said that AEP Texas agreed to the interconnection of the line to the AEP Texas Stewart Road substation.
The line is needed to support the reliability of the regional transmission grid, the commission said.
Parties to the proceeding agreed on settlement route B3, which is 4.9 miles long. The commission also said that the total estimated cost for the line using settlement route B3, plus the substation’s estimated costs, is about $44.8m.
The settlement route parallels existing transmission line rights of way (ROW) or other compatible ROWs or apparent property lines for 4.2 miles of the 4.9-mile route, which is 86% of the route, the commission said.
The line will not significantly impact the use or enjoyment of parks or recreational areas, the commission said, noting that there are no parks or recreational areas crossed by the settlement route, and there are no parks or recreational areas located within 1,000 feet of the centerline of the settlement route.
The study area traversed by the settlement route is about 18 miles long and about 5.5 miles wide. The commission added that the study area is also generally flat, primarily rural, and predominantly cropland, rangeland, or pastureland. ETT does not anticipate significant impacts to wetland resources, ecological resources, endangered and threatened species, or land use as a result of construction of the line, the commission said. The settlement route does not cross known or occupied habitat of federally listed endangered or threatened species.
Among other things, the commission said that ETT 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.
Also, ETT must obtain all permits, licenses, plans, and permission required by state and federal law that are necessary to build the line.
The commission added that if ETT encounters any archaeological artifacts or other cultural resources during project construction, work must cease immediately in the vicinity of the artifact or resource and the discovery must be reported to the Texas Historical Commission.
ETT is a limited liability corporation owned in equal 50% shares by a subsidiary of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) and 50% by MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company.