Texas administrative law judges (ALJs), in a May 21 proposal for decision, recommended that the Public Utility Commission of Texas certify Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative’s (GVEC) 138-kV transmission project in Caldwell and Gonzales counties, as well as approve “Route 1.”
As noted in the filing, GVEC has filed an application with the commission to amend its certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for authorization to build the new single-circuit line between the Lower Colorado River Authority’s (LCRA) new Bluestem switching station — to be located near the existing LCRA Harwood to Waelder 69-kV transmission line — and the proposed Delhi substation, to be located in Caldwell County.
While the project’s need is in dispute, at a hearing on the merits, the parties in the case focused on three routes that best address certain routing factors. The ALJs added that GVEC favors “Route 12” as it is the shortest and least expensive; parallels the highest amount of existing compatible rights of way (ROWs) for about 98% of its length; and impacts 14 habitable structures.
Commission staff, for instance, favors “Route 16” as it is the third least costly; impacts the fourth fewest habitable structures of the alternative route; and is the fourth shortest route.
As noted in the filing, the 11.47-mile Route 1 has an estimated cost of $9.98m; the 9.05-mile Route 12 has an estimated cost of $8.03m; and the 10.07-mile Route 16 has an estimated cost of $8.93m.
According to GVEC, regardless of which alternative route is selected, in addition to the transmission line costs, the project will include about $13.65m in substation and switching station costs.
The ALJs noted that commission staff was the only party with pre-filed testimony contesting the need for the project. After a hearing, GVEC and staff filed a stipulation and settlement agreement concerning the issue of need, agreeing to request that the commission find the that the project is necessary for the service, accommodation, convenience, and safety of the public. The Alford Farms Parties contest the need for the project and urge the ALJs and the commission to make their own determinations on whether or not GVEC met its burden of proof, the ALJs said.
Based on the present and projected developments, loads are projected to be about 10 MVA by 2022, and an additional 3.2 MVA by 2030. The ALJs added that they conclude that the current system will be inadequate to service the new loads, and that there is a need for additional service.
Discussing community values, for instance, the ALJs said that Route 1, with four habitable structures, is tied for second-lowest habitable structure count among the route alternatives.
The ALJs also noted that none of the 24 primary alternative routes cross any parks or recreational areas, nor are they located within 1,000 feet of any park or recreational area.
Among other things, the ALJs listed ordering paragraphs, calling for GVEC to conduct surveys, if not already completed, to identify metallic pipelines that could be affected by the approved electric transmission facilities.
As noted in a document accompanying the proposal for decision, the commission’s statutory deadline, extended by an agreement of the parties, is June 28.