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The Public Utility Commission of Texas, in a proposed order, approved Southwestern Public Service’s application involving a proposed 345-kV transmission line, consistent with a stipulation that resolves all of the issues in the docket (Docket No. 44726).
Resolution of the docket was the product of negotiation and compromise between the parties and directly affected landowner Luna-St. Romain, through general partners Joseph St. Romain and Suzahn Smith, the proposed order said.
The approved route for the line is Modified Route N, comprised of Links 1, 2, 10, 10M, 14, 18, 18M, 34M, 21, 22, 35 and 36. Modified Route N is about 27.33 miles long, the proposed order added.
According to a Dec. 28 document from the PUC to all parties of record, the PUC will consider the docket at a Feb. 11, 2016 open meeting.
Parties are to file corrections or exceptions to the proposed order by Feb. 3, 2016, the document said.
As noted in the proposed order, SPS last June filed an application to amend its certificate of convenience and necessity for the proposed 345-kV transmission line within Yoakum and Gaines counties that would extend to the Texas/New Mexico state line (Yoakum to State Line).
The proposed line will begin at the Yoakum County substation in Yoakum County about six miles southeast of Plains, Texas, on County Road 260, and will end at the state line with New Mexico, on State Line Road about 0.99 mile north of the intersection of County Road 330 and State Line Road in Yoakum County.
The proposed order further noted that the line represents the Texas portion of the Yoakum to Hobbs Project, which will connect the Yoakum County substation with the Hobbs substation in Lea County, N.M.
The Yoakum to Hobbs Project is part of a larger TUCO to Yoakum to Hobbs Project. The proposed order also noted that in addition to the new transmission line, the Yoakum County substation will be expanded and will require upgrades that include the addition of a 345/230-kV 560 MVA transformer and a 345-kV bus that will accommodate the connection of the proposed 345-kV transmission line.
The Southwest Power Pool identified the proposed line as needed for reliability in the West Texas/New Mexico area to address loading violations on the underlying network and voltage violations due to insufficient power supply to the network load in the service area.
SPS filed 13 alternative routes consisting of a combined 40 links, the proposed order noted, adding that parties have agreed to Modified Route N.
Modified Route N parallels existing transmission lines and other compatible right of way (ROW) for about 7.42 miles, or 27 percent of its total length.
The proposed line will be built using primarily two-pole tubular H-frame steel structures for tangents and light angles, the proposed order added. The total estimated cost to build the Texas portion of Modified Route N, including substation costs, is about $45.2 million, the proposed order said, noting that SPS estimates that the cost to build the transmission facilities is about $35.7 million. The estimated cost to expand and upgrade the Yoakum County substation is about $9.5 million.
The proposed order also noted that there are seven habitable structures located within 500 feet of the proposed line along Modified Route N; there are no recreation areas crossed or within 1,000 feet of the proposed centerline of Modified Route N; and Modified Route N does not cross any listed or determined-eligible historical or archaeological sites, and there are no such recorded sites located within 1,000 feet of the centerline of the route.
The main impact of the transmission line on vegetation will be the removal of woody vegetation along the proposed ROW, the proposed order said, adding that when clearing vegetation, SPS will make efforts to retain native ground cover, where possible, to minimize impacts to local vegetation and will reseed as required.
Furthermore, no impacts to federal or state-listed threatened or endangered species are anticipated.
Among other things, the proposed order said that in the event SPS or its contractors encounter any artifacts or other cultural resources during project construction, work is to cease immediately in the vicinity of the resource and the discovery is to be reported to the Texas Historical Commission. Also, SPS is to use best management practices to minimize the potential impact to migratory birds and threatened or endangered species.