The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, in May 31 comments filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, said that Alternative Route 11 would appear to be the preferred route among the routes evaluated for Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC’s proposed Kyle Ranch to Quarry Field 138-kV Transmission Line Project in Loving County, Texas.
As noted in the filing, Oncor proposes to build the line from the proposed Kyle Ranch substation to the proposed Quarry Field Switch, both located in Loving County. The proposed Kyle Ranch substation would be located west of County Road (CR) 300, about five miles southeast of the intersection of Farm-to-Market (FM) 652 and CR 300, while the proposed Quarry Field Switch would be located west of CR 300, about five miles north of the intersection of CR 300 and CR 22.
The TPWD added that Oncor anticipates the use of self-supporting, double-circuit steel or concrete poles, with the typical structure height anticipated to be 85 to 105 feet; pole height would vary depending on terrain, however. The proposed right of way (ROW) width for the proposed project would be about 70 feet.
The TPWD also noted that Oncor selected Alternative Route 11 as the route that best meets certain requirements, with that route, for instance:
- Being about 12.4 miles long, making it the shortest alternative route
- Estimated to cost about $16.8m, making it the least expensive alternative route
The TPWD said that it selected Route 11 as the route having the least potential to impact fish and wildlife resources. Route 11, for instance, 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 10.5 miles; and does not cross any known rare/unique plant locations.
The TPWD said that of the routes evaluated for the project, Alternative Route 11 appears to be the route that causes the least adverse impacts to natural resources, while also maintaining the shortest route length.
Among other things, the TPWD said that to prevent electrocution of perching birds, it recommends the company utilizing avian-safe designs that provide appropriate separation between two energized phases or between an energized phase and grounded equipment. The TPWD further recommended 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.
Other recommendations call for the company to have a permitted biologist survey the commission-selected route for any Texas horned lizards that may be in the area that is proposed for disturbance, as well as for fencing to be installed to exclude Texas horned lizards and other reptiles from entering the active construction area and project-specific locations or staging areas.
The TPWD further recommended that the company review the TPWD Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Species of Texas by County List for Loving County as rare plant species could be present, depending upon habitat availability. The TPWD also recommended that the company survey the commission-selected route for potential bat habitat, as well as for prairie dog towns or burrows and species that depend on them.
As TransmissionHub reported, Oncor discussed the need for the proposed project in its application, noting that ERCOT’s Regional Planning Group (RPG), Technical Advisory Committee, and Board of Directors have recommended approval of the Far West Texas Project 2 as a Tier 1 transmission project. ERCOT found voltage violations under NERC Standard TPL-001-4 reliability criteria, and in its independent review of the Far West Texas Project 2, ERCOT recommended construction of the Quarry Field switch station on the Wink-Riverton 138-kV line, as well as construction of a new Kyle Ranch-Riverton 138-kV line.
Oncor added that ERCOT also analyzed the proposed Kyle Ranch-Quarry Field 138-kV Line as a project already in-place in order to serve new loads, since it is considered a Tier 4 neutral project under ERCOT protocols. Thus, ERCOT’s recommended solution contemplated creation of a 138-kV loop between the Quarry Field switch, Kyle Ranch substation, and Riverton switch, Oncor said.
The company also said 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 in Loving County is being proposed to connect the Quarry Field switch station to the Kyle Ranch substation. The new line, Oncor added, in conjunction with the proposed Riverton-Kyle Ranch 138-kV line – currently pending in Docket No. 49304 – would create a new 138-kV transmission circuit between the Quarry Field switch station and the Riverton switch station, located in Reeves County, as envisioned in ERCOT’s approval of the Far West Texas Project 2.
Oncor said that according to the estimated schedule, if approved, construction of the facilities would begin in March 2020 and be completed in September 2020, which is also when the facilities would be energized.