July 28, 2010 - LCRA Transmission Services Corporation (LCRA TSC) today filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) an application which would allow it to build a new 345-kilovolt transmission line through the Hill Country. The line would connect the approved McCamey D Station (renamed Big Hill) to be constructed north of Eldorado with stations in Kendall and Gillespie counties, providing more reliability and a new path for wind power to get to market.
The application is to amend LCRA TSC’s Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN), which is required before construction can begin on the new transmission line, known as McCamey D to Kendall to Gillespie.
The line is part of a $4.9 billion effort mandated by the Texas Legislature to allow for reliable and cost-effective delivery of power produced from areas in West Texas and the Panhandle, called Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ), to homes and businesses throughout the state.
Following PUC guidance that the application must include several geographically diverse routes, LCRA TSC presented a preferred route and 59 alternative routes for McCamey D to Kendall and 14 alternate routes for Kendall to Gillespie that it believes are all viable possibilities and could be built. Commissioners can select any of those proposed routes or can instruct LCRA TSC to construct an alternate route that they devise using route segments included in LCRA TSC’s CCN filing.
Depending on the route chosen, the line from McCamey D to Kendall could be between 129 miles and 166 miles long, while the route from Kendall to Gillespie could range from 28 to 33 miles long. Estimated cost is more than $367 million.
Counties that could be impacted by this CREZ project include Schleicher, Sutton, Kimble, Kerr, Kendall, Gillespie, Menard and Mason.
The PUC requires LCRA TSC designate a preferred route, although about half the time the PUC does not select that route for construction. Here are the descriptions of the preferred route:
McCamey D-to Kendall preferred route
The preferred route (MK13) for this portion of the project begins at the new McCamey D Station located in northern Schleicher County and traverses generally from northwest to southeast to the existing Kendall Station, located in western Kendall County near Comfort. The preferred route is approximately 135 miles long and would be located in portions of Schleicher, Menard, Kimble, Gillespie, Kerr and Kendall counties. The preferred route parallels existing rights of way like highways, pipelines and electric transmission lines for about 40 miles. The preferred route crosses mainly rural property used for agricultural activities like ranching and hunting while it avoids crossing the towns located within the project area. The preferred route has less than 20 habitable structures (homes, businesses) located within 500 feet of its centerline, which was a factor that was important to the public.
Kendall-to-Gillespie preferred route
The preferred route (KG5) for this portion of the project begins at the existing Kendall Station located near Comfort in western Kendall County and traverses generally from north to south to the expanded Gillespie Station, located on Highway 87 northwest of Fredericksburg. The route crosses portions of Kendall and Gillespie counties. The preferred route is approximately 32 miles long and uses existing transmission line right of way for about 21 miles. The preferred route crosses mainly rural property used for agricultural activities like ranching and hunting, but does cross some residential areas near Fredericksburg. No portion of the preferred routes crosses a municipality. The preferred route has more than 70 habitable structures (homes, businesses) located within 500 feet of its centerline, most of which are already located along the existing transmission lines the preferred route would follow for about 21 miles.
Also, the application includes using steel lattice towers. Additionally, the application includes data about various structures ranging from lattice towers to different types of monopoles that could be used to build the project.
In an open letter to Hill Country citizens earlier this week, Tom Mason, LCRA’s general manager, said, "We stand ready, willing and able to construct any route using whatever structures, including monopoles."
A public notice listing the routes and describing individual route segments can be viewed at www.lcra.org/crez, along with other related information. The public notice is required by the PUC and includes maps. Interactive aerial maps showing all alternative routes are expected to be available on LCRA’s website on Thursday, July 29, after the PUC also has posted the filing on its interchange site at http://www.puc.state.tx.us/.
All documents filed in this docket are expected to be available Thursday on the PUC’s website at http://interchange.puc.state.tx.us/WebApp/Interchange/application/dbapps/login/pgLogin.asp.
The public notice also will be available the week of Aug. 2 in the Boerne Star & Record, Fredericksburg Standard, Comfort News, San Antonio Express-News, Austin American-Statesman, San Angelo Standard Times, Devil’s River News, Kerrville Daily Times, Menard News & Messenger, West Kerr Current, Eldorado Success, Junction Eagle, Harper News and Mason County News.
Copies of the maps also can be viewed at county courthouses in Schleicher, Sutton, Menard, Kimble, Mason, Gillespie, Kerr and Kendall counties.
This project is the largest CCN application ever filed by LCRA TSC. The application includes about 2,500 sheets of paper with more than three dozen oversized maps.
The project is divided into two CREZ lines that are considered "priority projects" by the PUC.
The McCamey D to Kendall line is a double-circuit 345-kV line that will connect the McCamey D Station, to be located in northern Schleicher County, to the existing Kendall Station in western Kendall County. The second line will connect the existing Kendall Station, located in western Kendall County, to the existing Gillespie Station in central Gillespie County. It is a single-circuit, double-circuit capable 345-kV line and is called Kendall to Gillespie.
The PUC is scheduled to select a route in January 2011, and the line is scheduled to be energized in the last quarter of 2013.
Persons wanting to intervene in this project, PUC Docket No. 38354, have until Aug. 27, to do so. Interveners or persons wanting to comment on the CCN application should mail the original and 10 copies of their requests to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, Central Records, Attn: Filing Clerk, 1701 N. Congress Ave., P.O. Box 13326, Austin, Texas 78711-3326.
An initial prehearing conference for all parties will be held Sept. 1, 2010, at Palmer Events Center in Austin.
Persons with questions about the transmission line can contact Sara Morgenroth, LCRA senior regulatory case manager, at (512) 369-4151, or 800-776-5272, Ext. 4151. For more information, see http://www.lcra.org/crez. Select the individual project for line-specific information.