Texas regulatory staff supports ‘Route 41’ for proposed Sand Lake-Solstice line

Public Utility Commission of Texas staff, in a March 5 initial brief, told the commission that it supports the adoption of Route 41 for the proposed Sand Lake-Solstice 345-kV Transmission Line Project.

Staff said that that route “is comparable to, or superior to, the other most commonly supported routes based on the evidence and quantitative criteria provided in the application,” which was filed by Oncor Electric Delivery Company and AEP Texas Inc., to amend their certificates of convenience and necessity (CCN) for the proposed double-circuit line in Pecos, Reeves, and Ward counties.

The project would connect the existing Oncor Sand Lake switch in Ward County, Texas, and the existing AEP Solstice switch in Pecos County, Texas.

Staff also noted that through the testimony and evidence presented at hearing, three routes emerged as the primary supported routes: two routes through the central corridor, including staff’s recommended route, the 45.7-mile, $127.5m Route 41, and the applicants’ recommended route, 44.5-mile, $125.9m Route 320, as well as one route through the western corridor, 54-mile, $144.9m Route 325 Modified.

Staff said that based on the route alternatives currently available, Route 41 best balances the desire to select a route exhibiting reasonable quantitative criteria, while also exhibiting features consistent with the community values expressed by parties and residents.

Route 41, for instance:

  • Has only three habitable structures within 500 feet of the centerline – the second lowest number of habitable structures of the proposed alternative routes. Route 320 has 38 habitable structures within the same distance
  • Is the third shortest route of the proposed alternative routes
  • Is the second least costly of the proposed alternative routes

Staff also said that Route 41 does not cross any recorded archaeological sites and has no cemeteries within 1,000 feet of the route centerline.

Most of the study area is rural in nature, with undeveloped land used primarily for oil and gas production, livestock grazing, and/or irrigated crop production, staff said.

None of the commonly supported routes impacts parks or recreational areas, staff noted.

“Although some parties may assert that routes other than Route 41 would have a less negative impact on landowners, the evaluation of this criterion is subjective, and staff recommends that Route 41 best balances the concerns regarding the impact on landowners with the other statutory criteria,” staff said.

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.