South Field Energy seeks approval in Ohio for transmission line, switchyard


South Field Energy, a unit of Advanced Power AG, is seeking a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for a proposed 345-kV transmission line and switchyard in Ohio.

According to its application filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board, South Field Energy is proposing to build the SFE Transmission Line and the SFE switchyard – together with the line referred to as the SFE interconnection facilities –in Columbiana County, Ohio.

The SFE interconnection facilities are associated with South Field Energy, a proposed combined cycle generating facility to be located on Hibbetts Mill Road in Columbiana County. That generating facility is addressed in a separate application to the OPSB, submitted last December.

South Field Energy also said that electricity generated by the generating facility would be delivered to the electric grid at the existing FirstEnergy Highland–Sammis 345-kV transmission line, located about 3.2 miles to the west via the SFE interconnection facilities.

The schedule for construction of the SFE interconnection facilities is based on commencement of commercial operation of the generating facility by 2020, in order to meet anticipated demand within the PJM Interconnection marketplace.

South Field Energy added that it is requesting issuance of the certificate by late spring to support commercial and financing activities in the third and fourth quarters of this year, and commencement of construction in 1Q17.

The SFE interconnection facilities would be placed in service upon completion of construction, timed to support first fire of the generating facility, which is anticipated to occur in mid- to late-2019, the company said.

A preferred and alternate right of way for the transmission line corridors have been identified, South Field Energy said, adding that both begin at a point of interconnection at the first take-off structure outside of the on-site switchyard located at the generating facility and extend in a generally west-northwest direction to reach the proposed SFE switchyard.

The estimated capital and intangible costs of the SFE switchyard, preferred ROW and alternate ROW were not made public in the application.

The preferred ROW traverses about 3.9 miles of land for which easements will be purchased in Madison and Yellow Creek Townships, connecting the generating facility to the SFE switchyard, located adjacent to FirstEnergy’s transmission line. South Field Energy also said that the alternate ROW also traverses about 3.9 miles of land for which easements would be purchased in Madison and Yellow Creek Townships, between the generating facility and the FirstEnergy line.

About 67 percent of the alternate ROW overlaps with the preferred ROW, predominantly in order to allow for a shared corridor with a proposed natural gas pipeline that would provide fuel for the generating facility. The natural gas pipeline will be the subject of a separate filing to the OPSB, South Field Energy added.

Various structure types would be used for the SFE Transmission Line, due to different physical requirements along both ROWs. However, South Field Energy added, all of the structures are expected to use a single-pole design, which would minimize the amount of soil disturbance as compared to double-pole, H-frame designs.

A total of 26 single-pole structures are shown in the preliminary design along the 3.9-mile preferred and alternate ROWs, spaced strategically to span ecological resources and to use reclaimed land of former strip mines, South Field Energy said. Structures range in height from about 80 feet to 170 feet above ground, with direct embedded foundations, and would be constructed of tubular, galvanized steel, the company said.

The portion of the SFE switchyard that would be fully enclosed by a chain link fence will be about 3.5 acres, with associated grading occurring within an area of about 6.6 acres, South Field Energy said.

Located within a 38-acre property north of Osbourne Road, the SFE switchyard would be accessed from a road about 0.3 mile in length, upgrading and extending an existing farm road from Sines Road to the SFE switchyard. South Field Energy also said that the SFE switchyard design includes a 345-kV breaker ring bus interconnection substation with a loop connection to the FirstEnergy line. In addition to the electrical equipment, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, and associated equipment would be located in a 20-by-50 foot on-site building also located within the fenced area, the company said.

South Field Energy said that it sought and received a waiver allowing for greater than typical overlap of the preferred ROW and the alternate ROW and for relief from providing fully developed information on the alternate ROW.

In an effort to minimize environmental impact associated with the SFE interconnection facilities, the company proposed to co-locate the SFE Transmission Line and the natural gas pipeline associated with the generating facility, which limits the potential for alternate routing.

Selection of the routes also focused on factors such as minimizing the total length of the electric transmission line; minimizing the number of turns; minimizing the number of parcels crossed; minimizing crossings of public roads and railroads; minimizing tree clearing and wetland or stream crossings; minimizing proximity to residences and other sensitive land uses; and reducing landowner interference by focusing on routes along the edge of properties, the company added.

Discussing land use impacts, the company said that there are 41 residential structures within the study area for the preferred ROW, and 31 residential structures within the study area for the alternate ROW. Three of those structures are also located within the study area for the SFE switchyard. No sensitive land uses, such as recreational or institutional, were identified within the study area for the SFE interconnection facilities.

The company also said that temporary impacts to land used during construction of the SFE interconnection facilities could include damage to crops, fences, gates, subsurface drainage systems (such as tile lines) and/or temporarily blocking access to agricultural fields. However, construction impacts would be temporary in nature, followed by site restoration in accordance with the terms of each land lease agreement, and would be confined to the properties of participating landowners, the company said.

Of economic impacts, South Field Energy noted that construction of the generating facility is estimated to generate $680 million in total economic output in Ohio, $380.2 million in gross state product, and an annual peak average of 550 construction jobs over the 30-month construction period, as well as 337 indirect and 465 induced jobs in Ohio.

During the 30-year operational phase, the generating facility is estimated to result in $57.6 million annually in total output for the state’s economy, about $37.8 million in gross state product, and an annual average of 29 facility jobs, as well as 189 indirect and 67 induced jobs in Ohio, according to the company.

Among other things, the company addressed ecological impacts, noting that no wetland or stream impacts are proposed on the switchyard site, and that while several small streams occur along the preferred and alternate ROWs, structures and roads have been located specifically to avoid impacts to such resources, where possible.

“Only one location, shared by the preferred and alternate ROWs, proposes impact to an intermittent stream for access,” the company said, adding that minor impact may also be associated with widening of access roads to reach the ROW. Limited conversion from forest to scrub-shrub may occur for certain wetlands with the ROW, the company said.

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