The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) on Feb. 19 filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas comments and recommendations regarding the Wadsworth to New Oliver to Farmland 345-kV and the Southeast to New Oliver to Oliver 115-kV Transmission Line proposed by Sharyland Utilities, L.P., and Lubbock Power & Light.
As noted in the filing, Sharyland is proposing to build a new single-circuit, 345-kV electric transmission line on double-circuit-capable structures and a new single-circuit, 115-kV electric transmission line in Lubbock and Lynn counties. The proposed project would consist of two distinct transmission line facilities.
The TPWD added that the goal of the proposed Wadsworth to New Oliver to Farmland (WNF) 345-kV electric transmission line is to connect the existing Wadsworth substation, located on the east side of the City of Lubbock in Lubbock County, to the existing Farmland substation, located southeast of the City of Tahoka in Lynn County.
The line would be routed through one of two proposed New Oliver station locations, each on the southeast side of the City of Lubbock. The TPWD added that the line would be about 42 to 53 miles long and would be built on a combination of monopole and lattice tower structure within a 175-feet-wide right of way (ROW).
The Southeast to New Oliver to Oliver (SNO) 115-kV electric transmission line would connect the existing Southeast station, located on the south side of the City of Lubbock, to the existing Oliver station, located on the south side of the City of Lubbock. The TPWD also said that that line would also be routed through one of the two proposed New Oliver station locations on the southeast side of the City of Lubbock. The line would be about 14 to 26 miles long, and would be built on monopole structures within an approximately 60-foot-wide ROW.
Sharyland retained POWER Engineers Inc., to prepare an environmental assessment and alternative route analysis (EA), the TPWD said, noting that Sharyland and POWER developed 109 WNF 345-kV primary alternative segments and 86 SNO 115-kV primary alternative segments. The consensus opinion of the POWER evaluators was that alternative routes WNF 20 and SNO 9 were the routes that best balance land use, aesthetic, ecological, and cultural factors, the TPWD said. Route WNF 20 is, for instance, the shortest 345-kV route at 42 miles, while Route SNO 9 is, among other things, the fifth shortest 115-kV route at 17.8 miles.
The TPWD said that of the proposed routes, WNF 17 would appear to be the preferred route, noting that Route WNF 17:
- Is the third shortest 345-kV route at 43.6 miles
- Parallels existing compatible ROWs or apparent property lines for 95% of its length
- Has the shortest length of route through pasture/rangeland at three miles
- Has the second shortest length across mapped National Wetland Inventory (NWI) wetlands and plays at 0.5 mile
The TPWD also said that it recommends the commission select a route that would minimize adverse impacts to natural resources, such as route SNO 10, noting that Route SNO 10:
- Is the third shortest 115-kV route at 16.8 miles
- Parallels existing compatible ROWs or apparent property lines for 78% of its length
- Has the second shortest length of route through pasture/rangeland at 2.6 miles
- Is tied with three other routes with the shortest length across NWI wetlands and playas at 0.1 mile
The TPWD also said that it recommends that any commission certificate preclude vegetation clearing activities during the general bird nesting season, March 15 through Sept. 15, to avoid adverse impacts to birds.
Additionally, the TPWD said that it recommends avoiding disturbance of the Texas horned lizard, its burrows, and colonies of its primary food source, the harvester ant, during clearing and construction.
Among other things, the TPWD recommended surveying the selected route for prairie dog colonies, and that if prairie dog colonies or burrows are found in the area proposed for disturbance, TWPD recommended avoiding those areas during construction, as well as installing exclusion fence to keep prairie dogs from entering the project area.