Unanimous stipulation filed with Texas regulators calls for approval of ‘Route 24’ for 345-kV line

A “complete unanimous stipulation” filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas on Feb. 20 calls for the approval of “Route 24” for the routing of the Bakersfield to Solstice Project, which is not changed or modified from the route as filed in the application filed jointly last November by LCRA Transmission Services Corporation (LCRA TSC) and AEP Texas Inc.

The filing also noted that the unanimous stipulation on routing of the project within Pecos County, Texas – referred to as the route stipulation – was entered into as of Feb. 15 by LCRA TSC; AEP Texas; Oncor Electric Delivery Company; commission staff; and all of the intervenors who remain parties to the proceeding and are affected by one or more route alternatives for the Bakersfield to Solstice 345-kV transmission line project that is proposed to be built by LCRA TSC and AEP Texas.

LCRA TSC and AEP Texas on Nov. 7, 2018, jointly filed the application with the commission to amend their certificates of convenience and necessity (CCNs) for the proposed double-circuit transmission line in Pecos County to interconnect the existing Bakersfield and Solstice stations.

Also on Nov. 7, 2018, Oncor and AEP Texas jointly filed an application with the commission to amend their CCNs for a proposed double-circuit, 345-kV transmission line in Pecos, Reeves, and Ward counties in Texas to interconnect the Sand Lake and Solstice stations – the Sand Lake to Solstice Project.

The filing added that the Bakersfield to Solstice Project and the Sand Lake to Solstice Project – collectively, referred to as the projects – share a common endpoint at the Solstice station, were reviewed through the ERCOT Regional Planning Group process, and were endorsed by ERCOT as components of the Far West Texas Project. ERCOT designated the projects as critical to the reliability of the ERCOT transmission system.

For the Bakersfield to Solstice Project, the application included 25 possible alternative routes for the commission’s consideration that met the certification requirements of the Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURA) and the commission’s substantive rules, the filing added. In the application, LCRA TSC and AEP Texas selected Route 24 as the route that best addresses those requirements. The filing also noted that commission staff filed testimony supporting the selection of Route 24, which included a letter from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that also supported Route 24. No party filed testimony or a statement of position opposing Route 24.

Discussions between the signatories have resulted in the route stipulation concerning the routing for the Bakersfield to Solstice Project, the filing added, noting that LCRA TSC, AEP Texas, Oncor, commission staff, and all of the intervenors who remain parties to consolidated Docket No. 48785 have executed a unanimous need stipulation regarding the need for the projects.

The total length of the right of way (ROW) for Route 24 is 71.1 miles, the filing noted, adding that Route 24 is estimated to cost about $156m. The estimated cost for upgrade of the Bakersfield station is about $6.5m, and the estimated cost for upgrade of the Solstice switch station is about $38.5m.

The filing added that the signatories support including these ordering paragraphs in the commission’s order for the Bakersfield to Solstice Project:

  • LCRA TSC and AEP Texas must coordinate with pipeline owners or operators in the vicinity of the approved route regarding the pipeline owner’s or operator’s assessment of the need to install measures to mitigate the effects of AC interference on existing natural gas pipelines that are paralleled by the proposed electric transmission facilities
  • LCRA TSC and AEP Texas must conduct surveys to identify pipelines that could be affected by the proposed transmission line, if not already completed, and coordinate with pipeline owners in modeling and analyzing potential hazards because of AC interference affecting pipelines being paralleled

Among other things, the filing said that LCRA TSC and AEP Texas agree to coordinate with Atmos Energy before conducting any blasting within 300 feet of Atmos Energy’s pipelines to avoid damaging them and before operating any heavy construction equipment across existing Atmos Energy pipeline ROW.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.