The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on May 30 told the Public Utility Commission of Texas that “Alternative Route 7 would appear to be the preferred route” for Oncor Electric Delivery Company’s proposed Riverton Switch to Kyle Ranch 138-kV Transmission Line Project in Reeves and Loving counties in Texas.
As noted in the filing, Oncor proposes to build the line from the existing Riverton Switch in Reeves County to the proposed Kyle Ranch substation in Loving County, Texas. The Riverton Switch is located three miles southeast of the intersection of U.S. Highway 285 and Farm-to-Market (FM) 652. The TPWD added that the proposed Kyle Ranch substation would be located west of County Road (CR) 300, about five miles southeast from the intersection of FM 652 and CR 300. The proposed project would be about 15 to 17 miles long, depending on the route selected by the commission.
The TPWD also said that for the proposed project, Oncor anticipates the use of a self-supporting, double-circuit steel or concrete poles. The typical structure height is anticipated to be 85 to 105 feet, but pole height would vary depending on terrain. The TPWD added that the proposed right of way (ROW) width for the proposed project would be about 70 feet.
Oncor selected Route 7 as the route that best meets certain requirements, the TPWD said, adding that that route:
- Is about 15.2 miles, which is the shortest alternative route
- Is estimated to cost about $19.2m, which is the least expensive alternative route
The TPWD said that it has selected Route 7 as the route having the least potential to impact fish and wildlife resources, noting that that route:
- Does not cross any parks and there are no additional parks or recreational areas within 1,000 feet of the ROW centerline
- Has the shortest length through pasture/rangeland at 13.4 miles
- Does not cross any potential wetlands
- Does not cross any known rare/unique plant locations
Of the routes evaluated, Alternative Route 7 appears to be the route that causes the least adverse impacts to natural resources, while also maintaining the shortest route length, the TPWD said.
Among its recommendations listed in the filing, TPWD said that any commission certificate preclude vegetation clearing activities during the general bird nesting season, March 15 through Sept. 15, to avoid adverse impacts to breeding birds.
The TPWD also recommended that the company take measures to avoid impacts to aquatic and riparian habitats, which would help minimize impacts to the Pecos pupfish, as well as other aquatic species inhabiting the Pecos River. In addition, the TPWD recommended surveying the commission-selected route for potential bat habitat, as well as for prairie dog towns or burrows and species that depend on them. Among other things, the TPWD further recommended avoiding disturbance of the western rattlesnake if found during clearing and construction.
As TransmissionHub reported, Oncor discussed the need for the project in its March application, noting that construction of the project was reviewed by stakeholders and endorsed by ERCOT through the ERCOT Regional Planning Group (RPG) Project Review Process as a component of the Far West Texas Project 2. ERCOT performed power flow studies as part of the ERCOT RPG process and found voltage violations under NERC Standard TPL-001-4 reliability criteria. As part of ERCOT’s approved solution, creating a new 138-kV connection from the Quarry Field to Kyle Ranch to Riverton stations was recommended to meet reliability needs, Oncor added.
The Far West Texas Project 2 was approved by the ERCOT RPG and has received approval by the ERCOT Technical Advisory Committee and the ERCOT Board of Directors. Oncor added that it continues to experience load growth in West Texas due to oil and natural gas production, mid-stream processing, and associated economic expansion in the area referred to as the Delaware Basin. In order to meet that need, a new line is being proposed to connect the Kyle Ranch substation to the Riverton switch station. Oncor added that that new line, in conjunction with the proposed Kyle Ranch-Quarry Field line – currently pending in Docket No. 49302 – will create a new 138-kV transmission circuit between the Quarry Field switch station, located in Loving County, and the Riverton switch station as envisioned in ERCOT’s approval of the Far West Texas Project 2.
The Quarry Field switch station is the future site for a dynamic reactive device (DRD) and the Riverton switch station is the future site for a future 345-kV injection, both of which are referenced in the ERCOT-approved Far West Texas Project 2, Oncor said. Creating a new electrical connection between those two points would result in a 138-kV system that would become more networked and allow bi-directional flow in the area, ultimately allowing the voltage support from the DRD and the 345-kV injection to address the reliability concerns during outage conditions, the company said.
Among other things, the company said that according to the estimated schedule, construction of the facilities would begin in March 2020 and be completed in September 2020, which is also when the facilities would be energized.