Revised proposed order calls for regulatory approval of 345-kV line in Pecos County, Texas

The double-circuit, 345-kV line would connect LCRA’s Bakersfield substation, as expanded, and AEP Texas’ Solstice switching substation, as expanded, according to the proposed order

A revised proposed order before the Public Utility Commission of Texas calls for the construction and operation of the proposed Bakersfield-to-Solstice 345-kV transmission line in Pecos County, Texas.

As noted in an accompanying May 16 memo from the Office of Policy & Docket Management to the commissioners, the commission will consider the docket – PUC Docket No. 48787 – at an open meeting scheduled for May 23 at the commission’s offices in Austin, Texas.

As TransmissionHub reported, the Office of Policy & Docket Management had sent a proposed order on the matter to the commission last month.

The memo noted that LCRA Transmission Services Corporation on May 1 filed its recommended modifications to the proposed order, and that commission staff on May 15 filed its corrections to the proposed order. The revised proposed order addresses the proposed corrections, the memo said.

As noted in the revised proposed order, LCRA and AEP Texas Inc., in November 2018, filed a joint application to amend their certificates of convenience and necessity (CCNs) for authority to build, own, and operate the proposed transmission line.

The double-circuit, 345-kV line would connect LCRA’s Bakersfield substation, as expanded, and AEP Texas’ Solstice switching substation, as expanded. LCRA would own the eastern half of the line, while AEP Texas would own the western half of the line, the proposed order added. LCRA would expand the existing Bakersfield substation to accommodate the new line and AEP Texas would expand the existing 138-kV Solstice switching station with the construction of a new 345-kV substation yard adjacent to the existing 138-kV Solstice switching substation as the western termination of the Bakersfield-to-Solstice transmission line.

The Bakersfield-to-Solstice double-circuit line would connect the new 345-kV double-circuit facilities at the two substations, with the line ownership – point of interconnection – being split at the midpoint of the route, the proposed order added.

The proposed transmission facilities are needed to support load growth in the Far West Texas area; address reliability violations under ERCOT reliability criteria and NERC reliability standards; as well as provide the infrastructure necessary to facilitate future transmission system expansion to continue to support that load growth, the proposed order noted.

In a settlement agreement, parties to the proceeding agreed to the 71.1-mile, $156m “route 24” for the proposed line. The proposed order also noted that the estimated cost of the expansion of the Bakersfield substation is $6.5m, while the estimated cost of the expansion of the Solstice switching station is $38.5m.

Route 24 is adjacent and parallel to existing transmission lines, other existing rights of way (ROWs), and apparent property lines for 86% of its length. The proposed order also said that route 24 does not traverse any pasture or cropland irrigated by traveling irrigation systems. In addition, there are no parks or recreational areas crossed by route 24, and there are no parks or recreational areas located within 1,000 feet of the centerline.

LCRA and AEP Texas do not anticipate significant burdens on wetland resources, ecological resources, endangered and threatened species, or land use as a result of construction of the proposed line, the proposed order said. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department identified route 24 as the route having the least potential to impinge on fish and wildlife resources, the proposed order noted.

Among other things, the proposed order calls for the commission to amend LCRA’s CCN number 30110 to include the construction and operation of the transmission facilities requested along “links A, C, D, E, and F, as well as 2,490 feet of the eastern portion of Link M up to the tower structure to be owned by AEP Texas and labeled as the Bakersfield-Solstice terminus that” would establish a new interconnection between LCRA and AEP Texas.

In addition, the proposed order calls for the commission to amend AEP Texas’ CCN number 30170 to include the construction and operation of the transmission facilities requested along “links R, W, X, and Y, as well as the western portion of link M up to and including the Bakersfield-Solstice terminus tower structure.”

LCRA and AEP Texas must cooperate with pipeline owners or operators in the vicinity of the approved route regarding the pipeline owners’ or operators’ assessment of the need to install measures to mitigate the effects of alternating-current interference on existing natural gas pipelines that are paralleled by the proposed electric transmission facilities.

The proposed order further called for LCRA and AEP Texas to cooperate with directly affected landowners to implement minor deviations from the approved route to minimize the burden of the line.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 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 clinares@endeavorb2b.com.