Monthly Project Review March 2020

TransmissionHub presents a roundup of most of the transmission project news that occurred in March, including that the New York State Department of Public Service, in a March 30 notice to proceed with construction, told PSEG Long Island that the company is authorized to begin construction activities required for Phase II of the Western Nassau Transmission Project (WNTP).

South/Midwest

Starting in the South, a March 2 notice of approval signed by an administrative law judge (ALJ) noted that the Public Utility Commission of Texas approves the October 2019 application of Texas-New Mexico Power Company (TNMP) to amend the company’s certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for the relocation of a portion of single-circuit, 138-kV transmission line in Collin County. TNMP proposes to relocate a portion of the line due to the Texas Department of Transportation’s widening of State Highway (SH) 121 in the Westminster area located in Collin County. ALJ Steven Leary said in the March 2 notice that commission staff recommends — and TMNP and the intervenors in the proceeding (Docket No. 50075) do not oppose — that the 3.6-mile, estimated $6.7m “route 2” is the route that best addresses certain requirements.

Also in Texas, the commission on March 2 approved the “agreed route” of Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC’s proposed 138-kV, single-circuit transmission line in Loving County. Oncor in March 2019 filed an application to amend its CCN to build, own, and operate the new line, which will connect the proposed Kyle Ranch substation to the proposed Quarry Field switching station. Oncor in December 2019 filed with the commission an unopposed stipulation regarding the project. The total length of the right of way (ROW) for Modified Route 37 is 14.3 miles. The stipulation also noted that the transmission line facilities built on that route are estimated to cost about $19.26m, while the estimated cost to build the Quarry Field switch station and half of the Kyle Ranch substation is about $15.85m. Thus, the stipulation added, the total cost of the project along Modified Route 37 is estimated at about $35.11m. As noted in the order, Oncor estimated that it would complete construction by September, which is also when the transmission facilities would be energized.

In other Oncor news, the company on March 5 filed with the Texas commission an application for a CCN for the Johnson Draw Point of Delivery (POD) – Salt Flat Road Switch 138-kV Transmission Line Project. The new single-circuit line would be built on double-circuit-capable structures between the proposed Johnson Draw POD and the existing Salt Flat Road Switch station, both located in Midland County, Texas. Oncor also noted that the total estimated cost of the project is about $6.72m — that is, about $5.26m for the transmission facilities portion of the project and about $1.46m for the substation portion. According to the estimated schedule, construction of the facilities would begin in November and be completed March 2021, which is also when the facilities would be energized.

In a March 12 order, the Texas commission said that it approves the construction and operation of the Abernathy to North to North Loop 345/115-kV Transmission Line along “route 34” in Hale and Lubbock counties in Texas. According to a proposal for decision, which the commission adopted with modifications, Oncor and the City of Lubbock, acting by and through Lubbock Power & Light (LP&L), filed an application with the commission to build the project, which will connect the existing Abernathy station, located north of Abernathy in Hale County, to LP&L’s North Loop — at either LP&L’s X-FAB or Northwest station — located on the north side of Lubbock in Lubbock County. The proposal for decision also noted that the project is part of a long-term plan to transition portions of LP&L’s load — referred to as the affected load — from the Southwest Power Pool grid to the ERCOT grid. The proposal for decision added that once the line is completed and energized, LP&L will solely own and operate the line. The commission noted in its order that route 34 is estimated to cost about $72.2m, with about $43m for transmission line facilities and about $29.2m for North option 3 station facilities. The commission noted that the application presented estimates of completing construction and energizing the transmission facilities by June 2021.

On March 16, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on March 16 filed with the Texas commission recommendations for the Bearkat Switching Station to Longshore Switching Station 345-kV Transmission Line in Glasscock and Howard counties. Wind Energy Transmission Texas, LLC (WETT) and Oncor propose to design and build the line, which aims to connect the Longshore switching station located in Howard County to the Bearkat switching station in Glasscock County. Noting that WETT and Oncor retained KP Environmental, Inc., (KPE) to prepare an environmental assessment (EA) to support the companies’ application to amend their CCNs for the project, the TPWD said that KPE selected the estimated $63.9m, approximately 30.8-mile Route 102 as the route that best meets certain requirements. However, the TPWD also said that Alternative Route 48 appears to be the route that causes the least adverse impacts to natural resources. Alternative Route 48 is about 31.9 miles long and parallels existing compatible corridors, including existing transmission lines, for about 85.8% of its length. According to the companies, construction of the facilities would begin in July 2021 and be completed in March 2022, which is also when the facilities would be energized.

Also in Texas, American Electric Power’s (AEP) AEP Texas Inc., on March 10 filed with the commission an application to amend its CCN for the proposed Union Carbide to Loma Alta Cut-In to Pompano 138-kV Double-Circuit Transmission Line in Cameron County, Texas. The line would begin at the cut-in of the existing AEP Texas Union Carbide to Brownsville Public Utility Board (PUB) Loma Alta 138-kV transmission line and would extend to the east until it reaches the proposed AEP Texas Pompano substation to be built at the proposed Rio Grande LNG facility located along State Highway (SH) 48, southwest of Port Isabel, Texas. AEP Texas said that it concluded that the estimated $38.2m, 10.23-mile “Alternative Route 4” is the alternative route that overall best addresses certain criteria. According to the estimated schedule, construction of the facilities would begin in July 2021 and be completed in April 2022; the facilities would be energized in May 2022.

In other AEP Texas news, the Texas commission on March 26 said that it amends the company’s CCN to include the construction and operation of the Three Rivers-to-Borglum and Borglum-to-Tuleta transmission lines along the agreed routes, TRB-19A and BT-1B. AEP Texas in April 2019 filed an application to amend its CCN to build, own, and operate a new 138-kV transmission line in Live Oak and Bee counties. The line will connect the company’s Three Rivers, Borglum, and Tuleta substations. The commission also noted that AEP Texas and certain intervenors in the matter in January filed an unopposed agreement agreeing on the estimated $36.7m, 28.95-mile route TRB-19A for the Three Rivers line and the estimated $41.3m, 22.53-mile route BT-1B for the Tuleta line. The commission added that the total estimated cost of the Three Rivers line and the Tuleta line using Three Rivers route TRB-19A and Tuleta route BT-1B, as well as the line terminations at the existing substations, and the new intermediate substation is about $95m. AEP Texas has estimated that it would complete construction and energize the transmission facilities by August 2022.

In other AEP-related news, Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) on March 31 filed with the Texas commission an application to amend its CCN for the proposed SWEPCO Morton cut-in to the Wood County Electric Cooperative E Burges cut-in 138-kV Transmission Line in Van Zandt County. The line would begin at one of two points of connection (POC) that start near the existing SWEPCO Morton substation located southeast of the City of Grand Saline, east of State Highway (SH) 110, and terminates at one of the three potential POC end options along the existing Wood County Electric Cooperative, Inc., (WCEC) 138-kV transmission line located east to southeast of Grand Saline, south of US Highway (US Hwy) 80, and north of the existing WCEC E Burges substation. Noting that it retained POWER Engineers, Inc., (POWER) to prepare the EA for the project, SWEPCO said that POWER recommends “Alternative Route 2” as the route that best balances the commission’s routing criteria related to land use, ecology, and cultural resource. Alternative Route 2 is the shortest route at 2.57 miles and estimated to cost about $4.2m. According to the estimated schedule, construction of the facilities would begin in May 2022 and be completed in November 2022, which is also when the facilities would be energized.

Moving to the Mississippi, a state Public Service Commission hearing examiner on March 19 recommended that the commission grant Entergy’s Entergy Mississippi, LLC (EML) a certificate of public convenience and necessity to acquire, build, expand, operate, own, and maintain a new 230-kV substation near Lewisburg, Miss., as well as other facilities. Those facilities involve a new line bay and associated upgrades at EML’s existing Getwell substation in Hernando, Miss., as well as a new approximately 5.7-mile transmission line built to 230-kV specifications between the Getwell substation and the new Byhalia substation along the soon to be completed Interstate 69 (I-69) corridor. Hearing Examiner Brandon Presley also noted in the recommended order that the project is within the certificated public utility service area of the company in DeSoto County, Miss. Milton Watts, manager in the Project Management and Construction Department for Entergy Services, LLC (ESL), testified during the proceeding that the total estimated cost of the proposed electrical facilities is $18.5m, and that the project is planned with an in-service date of June 2021, subject to the receipt of necessary permits and required approvals.

In other EML news, the company on March 30 filed with the Mississippi commission a petition for a certificate of public convenience and necessity seeking authorization to rebuild the 16.79-mile transmission line from the Scott 115-kV switching station to the Pelahatchie 115-kV substation — referred to as the Scott SS-Pelahatchie 115-kV Line Rebuild Project — to achieve at least a 260 MVA through path rating. The project — located within the company’s certificated service area in Scott and Rankin counties in Mississippi — is the fourth and final phase in a series of upgrade projects designed to rebuild the entire branch transmission line from the Attala 115-kV substation to Morton 115-kV substation. The project’s total estimated cost is about $15.6m. The company added that subject to the receipt of necessary permits and required approvals, the project is currently planned with an in-service date by December 2021.

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, in a March 19 final decision, said that it grants — subject to conditions — the application of American Transmission Company (ATC) for authority to rebuild the Bayport-Pioneer 69-kV transmission line as a double-circuit, 138-kV transmission line with 138-kV double-circuit structures, stringing and combining the two circuits, and operating the two circuits as one 138-kV circuit. The project also involves de-energizing the Bayport-Pulliam 69-kV transmission line; converting the Suamico substation and the relocated Sobieski substation to operate at 138 kV; as well as installing about 21 miles of 48-fiber optical ground wire along the entire project, located in Brown and Oconto counties in Wisconsin, the commission said. ATC proposes to build the facilities primarily for asset renewal needs and to provide the flexibility to efficiently address future needs, the commission said, noting that the estimated construction cost of the project is about $47.4m. ATC on March 23 said that construction is projected to begin in late 2020, with an in-service date of 2022.

On March 31, an ALJ with the Ohio Power Siting Board, David Hicks, said that the procedural schedule in the matter involving Republic Wind, LLC’s August 2019 application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need to build a transmission line in Seneca County, Ohio, is suspended in light of a Stay At Home Order issued in the state. The board in December 2019 said that it had scheduled a local public hearing to be held on Feb. 26, 2020, in Tiffin, Ohio, to allow interested persons, who are not parties to the case (case number 19-1066-EL-BTX), to provide sworn testimony regarding Republic Wind’s proposal to build the transmission line to connect the proposed Republic Wind Farm to the electric grid. The board noted at the time that as proposed, the project entails a 7.2-mile, 138-kV electric transmission line and a point of interconnection substation located in Pleasant and Adams townships in Seneca County. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on March 9 signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Ohio to protect the well-being of Ohioans from the dangerous effects of COVID-19, Hicks noted, adding that as described in the executive order, state agencies are required to implement procedures consistent with recommendations from the Department of Health to prevent or alleviate the public health threat associated with COVID-19. Thirty days after the Stay at Home Order expires or has been rescinded, the ALJ will work with Republic Wind and staff to establish a new procedural schedule that sets new hearing dates and ensures continued compliance with any orders or restrictions issued by the governor and Acton in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hicks said.

As reported, many companies are adding safety measures as they continue construction on electric transmission projects in light of the new coronavirus disease called COVID-19, officials told TransmissionHub during the week of March 16.

West

Moving West, Public Service Company of Colorado on March 2 filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission an application requesting that the commission grant a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the High Point Distribution 230/13.8-kV, 50 MVA Substation Project, which includes about 3.5 miles of new 230-kV, double-circuit transmission line that would tap into the existing 5277 Spruce-Green Valley 230-kV transmission line. The primary need for the High Point substation is to serve projected new load growth in the area surrounding the substation in Aurora, south of the airport, the company said. Public Service said that it estimates that the project would cost about $28.3m, plus or minus 20%, and that it is not requesting accounting treatment of project costs in the application. The company also said that it plans to begin construction on or about Jan. 1, 2021, and that it anticipates an in-service date of about June 1, 2022.

The Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee, at the conclusion of a public hearing that it held on Feb. 24-26 in Tucson, Ariz., regarding Tucson Electric Power’s (TEP) application for a certificate of environmental compatibility authorizing the Irvington to East Loop 138-kV Transmission Line Project, voted 8-0 to grant TEP, its successors and assigns, the certificate for construction of the project. As also noted in the certificate — which was docketed on March 3 — the project will be located in the City of Tucson and Pima County, and entails the construction of 12.78 miles of new 138-kV transmission line that will be built on a mixture of weathering tubular steel tangent and dead-end monopoles. The committee said that the certificate is conditioned upon certain conditions, including that the authorization to build the project is to expire 10 years from the date the certificate is approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission, with or without modification. Construction of the project is to be complete, such that the project is in service within that 10-year timeframe. However, prior to the expiration of the time period, TEP may request that the commission extend the time limitation.

In other Arizona news, the commission, in a March 31 order, said that it concludes that the certificate of environmental compatibility issued by the state siting committee to DCR Transmission, L.L.C., (DCRT) for construction of the Ten West Link Project, which is a 500-kV transmission line, “is hereby approved as granted by this order.” As noted in the certificate, the project includes the construction and operation of the line, associated appurtenances, and infrastructure to run about 103.5 miles from Arizona Public Service’s (APS) Delaney substation near Tonopah, Ariz., until it crosses the Colorado River into California. The entire length of the line will be 125 miles long, using a combination of existing utility corridors, the Department of Energy’s Energy Corridor, as well as private and state land. The committee added in its certificate that the line will ultimately terminate at Southern California Edison’s (SCE) Colorado River substation near Blythe, Calif. The committee noted that the certificate is granted upon certain conditions, including that the authorization to build the project is to expire 10 years from the date the certificate is approved by the Arizona commission, with or without modification.

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada has granted the application of Dodge Flat Solar, LLC (DFS) for a permit to construct the Dodge Flat Solar Energy Center Project, which includes a 345-kV generation-tie transmission line and switching station, according to an order dated March 10. As noted in the order, DFS filed an application with the commission under the provisions of the Utility Environmental Protection Act (UEPA), requesting a permit to construct the Dodge Flat Solar Energy Center Project, which consists of an approximately 200-MW photovoltaic solar energy generating facility, the generation-tie line and switching station, as well as associated facilities to be located in Washoe County, Nev. The order noted that regulatory staff recommended that the commission issue an order granting DFS’ request to bifurcate the project by issuing two UEPA permits for construction of the project, contingent upon DFS obtaining and filing with the commission the requisite permits and approvals for each phase of the project. For Phase One, for instance, the state and local permits and approvals required include the Bureau of Land Management — Environmental Assessment (EA) Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

The California Public Utilities Commission, in a decision issued on March 18, granted Edison International’s SCE a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the Riverside Transmission Reliability Project (RTRP). The RTRP would increase transmission capacity and provide a second point of interconnection for bulk power transmission to Riverside Public Utilities and its customers, the commission said, adding that project approval is subject to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The RTRP includes components that would be owned and operated separately by Riverside Public Utilities and SCE, the commission noted. The elements of the RTRP that would be owned and operated by SCE and for which SCE seeks authority to build include a new 230-kV “Wildlife substation” and associated facilities, about 10 miles of 230-kV transmission line connecting the Wildlife substation to the existing Mira Loma substation, as well as new telecommunications facilities between the existing Mira Loma and Vista substations and the proposed Wildlife substation. SCE is to notify the commission’s Energy Division if and when it reasonably anticipates that RTRP costs will exceed $408m if built as proposed by SCE and $521m if built as “Alternative 1” and, within three months thereafter, to apply to the commission for a determination of the reasonableness of such excess costs.

Mid-Atlantic/East

In Virginia, the state Department of Environmental Quality on March 4 filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission recommendations on a project proposed by Virginia Electric and Power d/b/a Dominion Energy Virginia that includes a new 230-34.5-kV substation in Loudoun County, Va. Dominion has submitted an application to the commission for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to build, for example, a new approximately 0.6-mile, 230-kV double-circuit transmission line loop on new ROW, supported by eight double-circuit, single-shaft, galvanized steel poles and utilizing three-phase twin-bundled 768.2 ACSS/TW type conductor, from a tap point junction located on future 230-kV Buttermilk-Roundtable Line #2214 about 0.29 mile east of Dominion’s existing Roundtable substation to a new 230-34.5-kV Lockridge substation. The DEQ noted that the DEQ-Office of Wetlands and Stream Protection recommends that prior to beginning project work, all wetlands and streams within the project corridor should be field delineated and verified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; wetland and stream impacts should be avoided and minimized to the maximum extent practicable; and any temporary impacts to surface waters associated with the project should require restoration to pre-existing conditions. The desired in-service target date for the project is July 31, 2022, with construction estimated to begin around Oct. 4, 2021, if the commission issues a final order by Nov. 30, 2020. The company also said that the estimated conceptual cost of the project is about $35.4m, which includes about $14.5m for transmission-related work and about $20.9m for substation-related work (2019 dollars).

National Grid and Eversource Energy on March 5 said that they have submitted a range of proposals for transmission solutions in response to a solicitation for competitive transmission solutions that was issued by ISO New England (ISO-NE). ISO-NE spokesperson Matt Kakley on March 5 told TransmissionHub that eight different developers submitted a total of 36 proposals. The companies said that their eight proposals range in cost from $48m to $120m, with the most cost-effective solution containing such benefits as maximizing the use of existing transmission facilities in the Boston area. The companies said that other solutions include the construction of a new 345-kV transmission circuit along existing ROWs north of the Mystic Generating Station that would deliver added reliability and resilience, as well as maximize the capacity to bring more clean energy into the Boston area.

Anbaric on March 19 announced details of the Mystic Reliability Wind Link project, which, as the company noted, was proposed in response to a procurement from ISO-NE to ensure the reliability of the New England electric system. Anbaric said that its project would involve installing electric transmission cables entirely underground and under the seabed from Plymouth to Everett, enabling the closure of the Mystic Generating Station, which, as noted on the Anbaric project website, must close by June 2024. The company said that key project details include a return on equity (ROE) of 7.9% and creation of a 900-MW to 1,200-MW pathway for offshore wind connecting to southeast Massachusetts to reach Greater Boston.

In other New England-related news, NSTAR Electric d/b/a Eversource on March 12 filed with the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities an initial brief concerning the company’s proposal to build and operate a new 115-kV overhead transmission line on an existing ROW between the Fisher Road substation and Cross Road substation in the Town of Dartmouth. The company noted that it filed a petition with the department in March 2019 seeking a determination that Eversource’s proposal to build about 5.1 miles of new 115-kV transmission line primarily on steel monopoles along an existing Eversource ROW between the two substations serves the public convenience and is consistent with the public interest. The company noted that the project is needed to improve reliability. The cost estimate for the project, with an expected accuracy of ± 25%, is about $15m, the company said, adding that construction is predicted to take nine to 12 months.

On March 6, Appalachian Power said that its representatives and the utility’s affiliate, AEP West Virginia Transmission Co., Inc., plan upgrades to the electric transmission system serving customers in Kanawha, Lincoln, and Boone counties in West Virginia through the Alum Creek-Madison Transmission Line Rebuild Project, which involves rebuilding about 20 miles of transmission line in or near the existing ROW. As noted in a project fact sheet, the project is designed to increase electric reliability in the area, as well as strengthen the transmission system by replacing towers from the 1920s with steel poles. According to the project schedule, ROW acquisition would begin in spring 2021, construction would begin in fall 2021, and the project would be in service in November 2023.

A Feb. 12 proposed order signed by a Maryland Public Service Commission public utility law judge calling for the conditional approval of Baltimore Gas and Electric’s (BGE) Key Crossing Reliability Initiative Transmission Line Project became a final order of the commission on March 16. As noted in the Feb. 12 order signed by Public Utility Law Judge Kristin Case Lawrence, Exelon’s BGE in December 2018 filed an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for authority to modify a portion of the existing 230-kV electric transmission line that runs between the Riverside substation in Baltimore County, Md., and the Brandon Shores substation in Anne Arundel County, Md. BGE asserted that the reconstruction was necessary to maintain the integrity and reliability of the double-circuit, 230-kV transmission loop around BGE’s Maryland electric distribution service territory, and mitigate potential overloads. Lawrence said that BGE estimates the capital cost of the project to be about $232m, which the Power Plant Research Program equated to about $115m per mile. While the project will be costly — a cost that will be borne by ratepayers — it is a replacement of critical transmission infrastructure, Lawrence said.

The New York State Department of Public Service, in a March 30 notice to proceed with construction, told PSEG Long Island that the company is authorized to begin construction activities required for Phase II of the WNTP. The New York State Public Service Commission in March approved the Environmental Management and Construction Plan for Phase II of the project. The department also noted that the approval order states, in part, that the applicant is to not “commence construction until it has received a ‘notice to proceed with construction’ letter signed by the director of Facility Certification and Compliance or his/her designee.” The March 30 notice was signed by Houtan Moaveni, director of Facility Certification and Compliance. The WNTP, which will be a second circuit between the two noted substations, will reinforce the LIPA electric transmission system in the Southwest Nassau Area and further PSEG Long Island’s efforts to ensure additional reliable service, according to the commission.