Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC) is granted a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need (CECPN) for a project that includes an 18-mile, 161-kV transmission line in Van Buren County, Ark., according to a May 13 order signed by an Arkansas Public Service Commission administrative law judge (ALJ).
As noted in the order, AECC in December 2018 filed its application for a CECPN for the construction, ownership, and operation of a new 161-kV switching station adjacent to the existing Clinton West substation; the 161-kV line; and the 161-69-kV Partain substation in Van Buren County.
According to AECC, the project is needed because, for instance:
- Area loads have grown at a high rate
- The project would add a material amount of capacity for current loads and for future load growth
- Petit Jean Electric Cooperative Corporation (PJECC) can reconfigure wholesale deliveries currently served out of Clinton West, thus freeing up capacity at Clinton West
- The Partain substation and the proposed line can provide an electrical flow from one end of the existing 69-kV transmission line to the other
- When Phase 1 and Phase 2 are completed, a strong and adequate 161-kV transmission line would exist from the Clinton West to the Partain substation, to Heber Springs North, thus providing additional reliability
- The proposed plan would eliminate the need to rebuild nine distribution substations, thus saving millions of dollars
- Reliability would be enhanced because the faults can be sectionalized and isolated along the existing 69-kV line
- Maintenance can be performed with greater reliability, greater safety, and at a lower cost
- A 161-kV electrical flow has lower losses than a 69-kV electrical flow, thus reducing losses and increasing energy efficiency
According to AECC, the impact of the line on existing and planned manmade property should be minimal; about 15 acres would traverse areas managed for timber production, while four-fifths of the proposed right of way (ROW) would traverse undeveloped wooded area, with the remaining ROW is for farming.
From PJECC’s Hillview substation to the new Partain substation, the line would be built within the 100-ft., ROW of the existing 69-kV line, the order noted, adding that the only impacts to the aesthetics would be due to the fact that the replacement structure would be taller and carry a second circuit.
AECC proposes to build the Clinton West switching station consisting of a ring bus configuration with at least four breaker positions. The order added that the switching station would be located adjacent to the existing 161-69-kV Clinton West substation all within the same fenced area. Two of the breaker positions would serve as the in and out connections to the existing Entergy Arkansas, LLC Quitman to Hilltop 161-kV Transmission Line, which is presently serving the Clinton West substation. The order added that the third breaker would serve the existing 161-69-kV Clinton West substation, while the fourth breaker position would serve as the connection for the proposed 161-kV transmission line to the Partain substation.
The 161-kV line would extend about 18 miles from the Clinton West switching station to the Partain substation, the order said, adding that AECC would use “H-frame” structures using weathering type steel poles in wooded areas, placed 500 feet to 800 feet apart. Galvanized poles would be utilized in urban areas, particularly in the Fairfield Bay area, to minimize aesthetic displeasure, the order said.
According to AECC, the facilities in the docket are phase one of a project that would extend 161-kV transmission service from the Partain substation east to AECC’s Heber Springs North substation completing a transmission loop.
The cost of the proposed facilities is estimated to be $28m – that is, $4m for the transmission switching station; $20m for the transmission line; and $4m for the Partain transmission substation. The order added that according to AECC, sufficient general funds would be available to finance construction of the proposed facilities and as such, no additional financing would be necessary. The proposed facilities would be under a Midcontinent ISO (MISO)-tariffed facility, and as such, it is anticipated that 70% of the proposed facilities’ annual cost would be recovered through MISO’s network transmission revenue.
Revenues received from tariffed transmission facilities are returned directly to AECC’s member cooperatives, the order said, adding that that revenue offset means that AECC’s member cooperatives are only impacted by the net difference or about 30% of the proposed facilities’ annual cost.
Among other things, the order noted that AECC has taken appropriate action in the proceeding to avoid any damage to, or disturbance of, culturally, archaeologically, or historically significant sites at the location, and along the route, of the proposed facilities.
The ALJ also recommended in the order approval of a 500-feet variance that AECC requested in order to accommodate legitimate concerns and objections of property owners whose lands would be traversed, provided that such deviations or adjustments do not adversely affect other landowners, does not traverse a landowner not previously notified, do not involve significant cost increases, and do not inhibit AECC’s ability to conform the location of the proposed facilities as closely as possible to existing land use and property lines.
The order also noted that while there would be certain unavoidable consequences from the construction and operation of the facilities, it is determined that they represent an acceptable adverse environmental impact, considering the state of available technology, the requirements of law, the present and future need of the end users for the electricity to be transmitted and distributed by the upgraded transmission facilities, the nature and economics of the proposed facilities, as well as the alternatives that were considered.
AECC has an expected in-service date of Dec. 1, 2020, the order noted.