The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), in Jan. 12 comments filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas regarding Texas-New Mexico Power Company’s (TNMP) proposed transmission line in Reeves County, Texas, recommended that the commission select a route that would minimize adverse impacts to natural resources, such as Alternative Route D.
Of the routes evaluated in an environmental assessment (EA), Alternative Route D appears to best minimize adverse impacts to natural resources while also maintaining a shorter route length, the TPWD said.
As noted in the filing, TNMP proposes to build the new double-circuit Faulkner to Alpine 138-kV Feed Transmission Line Project in Reeves County, about 1.2 miles south of Toyah, Texas.
The proposed line would begin at a new substation directly east of the existing Faulkner substation at the end of County Road 214. The TPWD added that the line would extend west and connect to the new Alpine substation located west of County Road 229.
The typical structure for the project would be a steel single-pole structure design and would vary between 95 feet and 135 feet in height, depending on clearance requirements. The TPWD added that the new line would be built on new right of way (ROW) 80 feet in width.
TNMP contracted with POWER Engineers to prepare the EA and upon evaluation of the primary alternative routes, POWER and TNMP selected Route A as the primary alternative route that best addresses certain requirements. The TPWD added that the EA included certain information outlining the factors that contributed to the selection of Route A, including that that route is the fifth shortest route at 9.79 miles.
The TPWD said that it selected Route D as the route having the least-potential to impact fish and wildlife resources, adding that that route, for instance:
- Is the third shortest route at 8.73 miles
- Does not cross any parks and there are no additional parks or recreational areas within 1,000 feet of the ROW centerline
- Does not cross any known habitat of federally listed threatened and endangered species
Among other things, the TPWD said that to prevent electrocution of perching birds, TPWD recommends utilizing avian-safe designs that provide appropriate separation between two energized phases or between an energized phase and grounded equipment.
In addition, if migratory bird species are found nesting on or adjacent to the project area, they must be dealt with in a manner consistent with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The TPWD added that it recommends excluding vegetation clearing activities during the general bird nesting season – March 15 through Sept. 15 – to avoid adverse impacts to breeding birds.
Furthermore, the TPWD said that it recommends having a permitted biologist survey the commission-selected route for any Texas horned lizards that may be in the area that is proposed for disturbance.
In addition, the TPWD said that it recommends surveying the commission-selected route for potential bat habitat. The TPWD further recommended surveying the commission-selected route for prairie dog towns or burrows and species that depend on them.