FPL asks Florida to approve 230 kV transmission line

FPL elp

Florida Power & Light, in its Jan. 11 petition filed with the Florida Public Service Commission, said that it proposes to build and operate a nearly 38.5-mile, single-circuit, 230-kV transmission line that would originate at FPL’s existing Duval substation in Duval County and would terminate at FPL’s planned Raven substation in Columbia County.

The project, which has a planned in-service date of December 2018, is needed to serve the increasing load and customer base in the North Region, which includes all or portions of Brevard, Volusia, Flagler, St. Johns, Putnam, Bradford, Union, Columbia, Baker and Duval counties, and in particular the area west of the existing Bradford and Baldwin substations and east of the planned Raven substation.

FPL also said that the project is needed to increase the capacity of the existing 230-kV transmission network between the Duval, Baldwin and Bradford substations and relieve the loading on the existing 115-kV transmission network between the Baldwin, Bradford and Columbia substations in a reliable manner consistent with the reliability standards and criteria established by NERC.

In addition, the project is needed to provide another electrical feed from the Duval substation in Duval County to the Lake City area in Columbia County, largely adjacent to an existing 115-kV right of way path, thereby reducing the impact of a loss of the existing transmission facilities on a common ROW, the company said.

FPL noted that 96 percent of the new transmission line would be located within the existing easement where there is the 115-kV transmission line.

Over the past five years – 2010-2014 – the load in FPL’s North Region has grown by a compound annual average growth rate (CAAGR) of 1.3 percent, FPL said, adding that it forecasts the North Region to continue to grow at CAAGR of 1.8 percent over the next five years – 2015-2019.  Transmission assessment studies conducted by FPL during 2014 and 2015 show that by 2018, the existing 115-kV transmission network between Baldwin, Bradford and Columbia substations will not have sufficient capacity to provide reliable service to potential future distribution substations, the company said.

A study of transmission improvements evaluated various alternatives, which resulted in the selection of the project as the most cost-effective and efficient means to reinforce the existing 230-kV and 115-kV networks and provide electrical service to existing and future load areas and substations within the Baldwin-Columbia-Bradford transmission facilities, FPL said.

The estimated total project cost is about $71 million, including $52.1 million in estimated transmission line costs, about $14.6 million for the new Raven substation, and about $2.5 million for the Duval substation (new line terminal), the company said.

Discussing project alternatives, FPL noted that one alternative consists of performing ampacity upgrades and re-conductorings of about 47 miles of existing 115-kV transmission line sections between the Baldwin, Bradford and Columbia substations, in addition to the installation of capacitor banks for voltage support in the project service area.

That alternative, which has an estimated capital cost of $101 million, was rejected for several reasons, including that it does not provide for future transmission network flexibility, nor does it improve reliability in the project service area because it only reinforces the existing 115-kV network, FPL said.

The company said that if the proposed project is delayed, or if the PSC denies the petition, FPL would be forced to initiate implementation of that alternative in order to serve the area load with an acceptable level of reliability. The result would be that FPL would be required to address its customers’ needs with a less reliable, more costly alternative than the proposed project, and one that is not in the best long-term interest of customers when compared to the proposed project, FPL said.

Among other things, FPL said that the PSC should grant the company’s petition for a determination of need for the project and determine that the project’s cost and reliability benefits would preserve and enhance electric system reliability and integrity in the area.

In a Jan. 11 letter to the PSC, FPL noted that the PSC is required to render its decision on the company’s petition within 60 days of the filing of the petition, which would be March 11. Accordingly, the latest PSC agenda conference before March 11 would be March 1, or four business days after a scheduled Feb. 24 hearing.

Recognizing the limited time that would be afforded to the PSC and its staff to reach a decision by March 1, and taking into account the time needed by FPL to obtain the necessary permits for the transmission line project, FPL said it provides a limited waiver of its right to a PSC decision on the instant petition within the 60-day timeframe so that the PSC would have up until its April 5 agenda conference to reach a decision on the petition. The limited waiver assumes a bench decision is not made at the Feb. 24 hearing in the docket (Docket No. 150263-EI), FPL said.

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