The Florida Public Service Commission on June 18 said that it has approved Orlando Utilities Commission’s (OUC) need for its proposed Orlando/St. Cloud Regional Resiliency Connection 230-kV transmission line.
The line will connect OUC’s existing Magnolia Ranch North substation in Orange County with OUC’s existing St. Cloud East substation in Osceola County.
Commission Chairman Gary Clark said in the statement that the commission “determined that this project will support growth in demand for electric service in the St. Cloud and southeastern Orlando area and reinforce the reliability of OUC’s existing electric system, which serves the Orlando metropolitan area. It will also support future development of renewable energy resources.”
The commission noted that it is directed by statute to hold a hearing on a petition for determination of need for a jurisdictional transmission line, and that its June 18 decision concluded the need determination hearing for OUC’s petition.
As noted in the commission’s statement, OUC is a municipally owned public utility providing water and electric service to residents and businesses of Orlando, as well as portions of adjacent unincorporated areas of Orange County and St. Cloud in Osceola County.
As noted in a June 12 commission prehearing order, according to OUC, the project is needed to ensure system reliability and integrity for the St. Cloud area specifically because the electrical loads on the system serving the St. Cloud area are rapidly approaching the transmission capability of the grid to deliver power reliably to customers in that area.
According to OUC, if it does not add the project, then the system serving St. Cloud will be at risk for overloads and under-voltage conditions starting in 2023; in the event of unusually warm summer weather, such reliability issues could arise even sooner.
The OUC also noted that the project is needed to ensure the delivery of abundant, low-cost electric energy to meet the needs of customers of OUC and other utilities in the central Florida area, according to the commission. Specifically, there is one 74.5-MW solar facility under construction in the St. Cloud area, and the developers of more than 300 MW of additional new solar capacity have requested, or are expected to request, interconnection evaluation in the same area.
According to the May direct testimony, on behalf of OUC, of Aaron Staley, manager of Transmission Planning and Reliability for OUC, OUC estimates that the total cost of the project will be between $107m and $152m, depending on which of the three routes is ultimately selected, and on the final conditions of certification as they will directly affect the cost of the facilities installed.
As noted in OUC’s May petition for determination of need for the project, the line’s “length will exceed 15 miles.”