Texas regulators to approve 138-kV transmission line

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) is set to approve the construction of a 138-kV transmission line that will help serve growing demand for electricity in Guadalupe Valley Electric Coop’s (GVEC) service territory in the Eagle Ford shale region.

GVEC on Oct. 9 filed with the PUCT a joint proposed order for its application to build the Gillette to Nopal transmission line in the Texas counties of Gonzales, Karnes, and Wilson. All parties to the application agreed on the joint proposal, and based on that filing, the PUCT on Oct. 24 issued its proposed order to approve the project (Docket No. 42287).

Landowners along GVEC’s preferred route for the transmission line intervened in the case and worked with GVEC to find an alternative route that would meet all parties’ needs. On Oct. 9, GVEC filed a stipulation agreement and joint settlement that established a unanimous settlement route.

The length of the 16 route alternatives that GVEC filed in the application ranged from about nine miles to 12 miles. GVEC's preferred proposed route, as designated in its application, is about nine miles long and estimated to cost $8.2 million. The settlement route is 10.28 miles long and estimated to cost $9.2 million.

End points of the transmission line are the proposed Gillette switching station and the proposed Nopal substation, and the settlement route would parallel an existing 345-kV transmission line that City Public Service operates. Estimated costs associated with building the switching station and substation facilities are $5.7 million, and the total project cost is estimated to be about $15 million.

The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) will construct the Gillette switching station, which will connect the new GVEC transmission facilities to existing LCRA transmission facilities, and GVEC will construct the new Nopal substation.

The Gillette to Nopal project will improve capacity and reliability of GVEC's electric distribution system to meet projected Eagle Ford shale area load growth. GVEC load requirements in Gonzales, Karnes, Dewitt, and Wilson counties currently are served from GVEC's Smiley, Nixon, Cheapside, and Yorktown distribution substations. Loads that are served from those substations will be served from the new Nopal substation.

Projected oil and gas development in the area will increase loads to about 5 MW by the end of this year and 7 MW by the end of next year.

In its application, GVEC noted that the count of the subsurface wells in the proposed service area for the Nopal substation shows that, as of Feb. 25, there were 274 existing wells and 181 permitted wells. Surface facilities for these wells account for 85 existing sites and 40 proposed sites. Each of the wells are about 30 kW per well and attribute to about 8.22 MW of existing facilities and 5.43 MW of proposed facilities.

Based on load forecasts, GVEC anticipates the Nopal substation total load to be around 5 MW, but GVEC said in its application that the facility could peak higher than projected.

GVEC expects to begin construction on the project in November 2015 and to place the facilities in service in March 2016.

The PUCT will consider the proposed order at its Nov. 14 open meeting.

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