Texas regulatory staff finds that 345-kV, 115-kV project proposed by Oncor, LP&L is necessary

Staff noted that as stated in the application, the CCN is needed to integrate a portion of LP&L’s system, about 470 MW of load, into the interconnect managed by ERCOT

Public Utility Commission of Texas staff on June 3 told the commission that a 345-kV transmission line and a 115-kV transmission line proposed by Oncor Electric Delivery Company and the City of Lubbock, acting by and through Lubbock Power and Light (LP&L), are “necessary for the service, accommodation, convenience, and safety of the public.”

Staff – in its recommendations concerning the joint application of Oncor and Lubbock Power and Light to amend their certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) to build the new single-circuit, 345-kV Wadsworth to New Oliver to Farmland Line (WNF Line) on double-circuit-capable structures in Lubbock and Lynn counties, as well as the new single-circuit, 115-kV Southeast to New Oliver to Oliver Line (SNO Line) in Lubbock County – said that the applicants’ proposed routes are adequate in number and geographic diversity.

Staff noted that as stated in the application, the CCN is needed to integrate a portion of LP&L’s system, about 470 MW of load, into the interconnect managed by ERCOT.

Staff recommended that the commission approve the application in order to build the WNF Line and the SNO Line, noting that both lines would be routed through one of two proposed alternative sites for the proposed New Oliver substation to be located on the southeast side of Lubbock in Lubbock County.

Staff concluded that the proposed project is the best option to meet the need when compared with other alternatives, and that paired Routes WNF20 + SNO9 are the best paired routes when weighing, as a whole, certain factors. Staff noted that the applicants also believe that paired Routes WNF20 + SNO9 best address certain requirements. As noted in the filing, the total estimated cost of both WNF20 + SNO9 routes is about $140.3m; the length in miles is 59.8.

Paired Routes WNF20 + SNO9 would mitigate many community members’ concerns, staff said, adding, for instance, that those routes have the fifth least number of habitable structures – 137 – within 500 feet of the WNF route or 300 feet of the SNO route.

Staff said that all of the proposed paired routes would result in a negative impact on aesthetic values, some routes more than others, depending on the visibility from homes and public roadways. Temporary effects would include views of the actual transmission line construction, while permanent effects would involve the visibility of the structures and the lines. Staff added that paired Routes WNF20 + SNO9 are the 10th shortest paired routes out of 154, which would help to mitigate those impacts.

Paired Routes WNF20 + SNO9 are tied with paired Routes WNF19 + SNO9 and WNF18 + SNO9 for having the eighth least length crossing 100-year floodplains, staff said, adding that paired Routes WNF20 + SNO9 have the 46th least amount of right of way (ROW) across upland woodlands/brushlands with 0.15 miles, have the 85th least amount of ROW across bottomland/riparian woodland with 0.56 miles, have the 38th least amount of ROW across National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) mapped wetlands and playa lakes at 1.1 miles, have the 31st least amount of ROW across known prairie dog towns at 0.4 miles, and have the least amount of stream or river crossings with two.

Staff recommended that the commission include in its order approving the application certain language in order to mitigate the impact of the proposed project, including:

  • The applicants are to conduct surveys, if not already completed, to identify metallic pipelines that could be affected by the transmission lines and cooperate with pipeline owners in modeling and analyzing potential hazards because of alternating current interference affecting metallic pipelines being paralleled
  • If the applicants encounter any archaeological artifacts or other cultural resources during project construction, work must cease immediately in the vicinity of the artifact or resource, and the discovery must be reported to the Texas Historical Commission
  • The applicants must cooperate with directly affected landowners to implement minor deviations from the approved route to minimize the burden of the transmission lines. Any minor deviations from the approved route must only directly affect landowners who were sent notice of the transmission line in accordance with 16 TAC § 22.52(a)(3) and landowners who have agreed to the minor deviation

Among other things, staff noted that paired Routes WNF20 + SNO9 have no parks or recreational areas within 1,000 feet of their centerlines.

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.