Texas regulators approve 345-kV transmission line associated with connecting LP&L’s system to ERCOT

The order noted that construction is expected to be completed by June 2021, which is also when the facilities would be energized

The Public Utility Commission of Texas, in an Oct. 14 order, approved a September 2018 joint application filed by Sharyland Utilities, L.P., and the City of Lubbock (Texas), acting by and through Lubbock Power & Light (LP&L), for a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) to build a single-circuit, 345-kV transmission line on double-circuit structures extending from the existing Abernathy station in Hale County to the new 345-kV switchyard adjacent to the existing Wadsworth station in Lubbock County, with the approved route for the line being “route 1 with modified segment 76M.”

As noted in the order, the line is a component of the option 4ow facilities and will be owned by LP&L. As TransmissionHub reported, “Option 4ow” is the transmission plan authorized by the commission in a separate proceeding (Docket No. 47576) to connect a portion of LP&L’s system, which is serving about 470 MW of load, to ERCOT.

Describing the transmission facilities, the order noted that the line will be built primarily on double-circuit-capable, 345-kV tangent monopoles, though lattice towers may be used for certain long spans and angles, extending from North Texas Utility’s recently acquired Abernathy station in Hale County to a new 345-kV Wadsworth switchyard to be built adjacent to LP&L’s existing 115-kV Wadsworth station in Lubbock County.

Construction of the line necessitates station work at the existing Abernathy station and the existing 115-kV Wadsworth station, including work necessary to terminate the line, as well as the construction of a new 345-kV Wadsworth switchyard adjacent to LP&L’s existing 115-kV Wadsworth station, the order said.

The order noted that Oncor Electric Delivery Company – as successor in interest to Sharyland – and LP&L requested the commission to amend Oncor’s CCN No. 30158 to include the construction of the line; the testing, commissioning, and energization of the line; as well as the provision of service and operation of the line up until possession of the line is completely transferred to LP&L.

Oncor will build the line, while LP&L will own, operate, and maintain the line, the order said. In addition, Oncor will build, own, and operate the new expansion construction at the existing Abernathy station, but North Texas Utility will continue to own and operate the existing Abernathy station. LP&L currently owns the existing 115-kV Wadsworth station and will perform and own the station work to be done at that station, the order said. Oncor will build, own, and operate the new 345-kV Wadsworth switchyard, the order noted.

No party disputed the need for the transmission facilities, which are needed to integrate LP&L into ERCOT under option 4ow, as authorized by the commission in Docket No. 47576, the order said.

The order noted that the commission selects route 1 over route 1A because route 1 is estimated to have lower costs and impacts fewer habitable structures. Route 1 comprises segments 1, 5, 26, 41, 53a, 125, 70, 76, 88, 106, 108, 110, 112, 120, 123, and 124, the order said, adding that Oncor, LP&L, and commission staff contended that route 1 best satisfies the applicable routing criteria, while two individuals asserted route 1A was the best route. A separate individual proposed a modification to segment 76 to create segment 76M, the order said, noting that with the modification, the line would parallel that individual’s northern property boundary and eastern property boundary rather than cross the property diagonally.

Routes 1 and 1A are each 32.9 miles long, the order said, adding that Segment 76M would add 0.22 miles to both routes. Route 1 with Segment 76M is 33.12 miles long and parallels existing compatible right of way (ROW) for 20.3 miles, the order said.

Route 1 is the cheapest of the alternative routes at about $64.7m, the order said, adding that route 1 is about $630,000 less expensive than route 1A, which is the fourth least costly route when compared to the other 18 alternative routes. Proposed segment 76M would increase the cost of both routes 1 and 1A by about $916,000.

Over its 33.12-mile length, route 1A with segment 76M has 27 habitable structures within 500 feet of its centerline, while route 1 has 24 habitable structures within 500 feet of its centerline, the order said.

Neither route 1 nor route 1A crosses any parks or recreational areas, the order said, adding that the commission does not expect either of those routes to adversely affect the use or enjoyment of parks and recreational facilities.

In addition, the order noted that neither route 1 nor route 1A would cross known habitat of federally listed endangered or threatened species.  Among other things, the order said that Oncor and LP&L must conduct surveys, if not already completed, to identify metallic pipelines that could be affected by the transmission line and cooperate with pipeline owners in modeling and analyzing potential hazards because of alternating-current interference affecting pipelines being paralleled. The order also noted that Oncor and LP&L must identify any additional permits that are necessary, must consult any required agencies, must obtain all necessary environmental permits, and must comply with the relevant conditions during construction and operation of the transmission facilities.

The order noted that the application presented estimates of finalizing engineering and design by March 2020; acquiring all ROW and land by September 2020; procuring material and equipment by December 2020; and completing construction by June 2021, which is also when the facilities would be energized.