Texas regulatory staff recommends approval of line needed to connect wind farm

Public Utility Commission of Texas staff on March 1 said that it recommends that Electric Transmission Texas’ (ETT) application for an approximately 3.8-mile, single-circuit, 345-kV line in Knox County, Texas, be approved, and that ETT be ordered to comply with certain reporting requirements, subject to measures to mitigate construction impacts.

According to staff’s filing, ETT in January filed its application to amend its certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) to build the Coulomb to Vera Wind 345-kV Transmission Line.

As TransmissionHub reported, ETT is proposing to design and build the line to interconnect a new wind generation facility. Further discussing the need for the proposed project, ETT said in its application that the proposed line would connect a new transmission service customer, El Campo Wind, LLC, which has requested ETT to interconnect at its to-be-built Vera Wind substation at 345 kV to provide interconnection service to its planned 242.8-MW plant capacity comprised of 17 units at 2 MW each; 48 units at 4.2 MW each; and two units at 3.6 MW each.

The proposed line would be built as a single-circuit, 345-kV line, except for an approximate 0.7-mile section west out of the Coulomb switch station, which would be built double-circuit-capable, ETT said, adding that the project would be built using primarily steel, single-pole structures. The line would extend from the ETT Coulomb 345-kV switch station to the wind farm’s Vera Wind substation.

ETT also said that it would own the new Coulomb 345-kV switch station, while the new Vera Wind substation would be owned by El Campo Wind and would be the other terminus for the project.

ETT noted that the estimated total cost of the transmission facilities portion of the project would be about $10.7m, and that the estimated total cost of the substation facilities portion of the project would be about $14m.

According to the estimated schedule, construction of the facilities would begin in August and be completed in March 2020, which is also when the facilities would be energized.

Tom Sweatman of the commission’s Infrastructure and Reliability Division, in a Feb. 28 memorandum to Steven Gonzalez of the Legal Division, issued certain recommendations for the project, including that ETT follow measures to mitigate construction impacts. Those measures include that in the event that ETT or its contractors encounter any artifacts or other cultural resources during project construction, work is to cease immediately in the vicinity of the resource, and the discovery is to be reported to the Texas Historical Commission.

Other measures call for ETT to cooperate with directly affected landowners to implement minor deviations in the approved route to minimize the impact of the line, and for ETT to use best management practices to minimize the potential impact to migratory birds, as well as threatened or endangered species.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 2807 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 13 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at corinar@pennwell.com.