1. Submit Study to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)
In July 2013, CenterPoint Energy submitted a study to ERCOT's Regional Planning Group addressing the critical need for a new transmission line into the Houston Region.
To see a copy of this study, click here.
2. ERCOT Review of Project
On April 8, 2014, the ERCOT Board of Directors voted to endorse the Brazos Valley Connection project and deemed its completion before mid-2018 critical for reliability.
To see a copy of the ERCOT Independent Review of the Houston Import RPG Project report,
3. Public Meetings, the Routing Study and Environmental Assessment
CenterPoint Energy held four public meetings during October-December 2014 in three varied locations accessible to each of the three counties (Grimes, Harris, and Waller) where the project is to be constructed. The two primary reasons for holding the meetings were: 1) to share information about the proposed transmission line with landowners and other members of the public; and 2) to gather information from landowners and other interested parties about the routing of the proposed transmission line as well as address any concerns or questions from attendees. The individuals who attended the public meetings had an opportunity to make comments, ask questions, and express any concerns that they might have about the routes under consideration. Representatives from CenterPoint Energy and POWER Engineers, Inc. were available to answer questions. The information gathered from the public meetings and other sources was used to develop multiple routing alternatives and to assess the environmental impacts of the proposed transmission line. The resulting Routing Study and Environmental Assessment are part CenterPoint Energy’s Application for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) for a proposed electric transmission line it filed at the PUC.
To visit our PUC Filing page, click here.
4. File a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN)
In order to construct a new electric transmission line, a CCN application must be filed with the PUC. CenterPoint Energy has prepared an application for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) for the proposed transmission line project and submitted it to the PUC on April 24, 2015 under Docket No. 44547 for review and approval. The application includes 32 alternative routes between the Zenith and Gibbons Creek substations.
To see a chart illustrating the PUC certification process, please click here.
5. PUC Proceeding
In April 2015, CenterPoint Energy filed an application to amend a CCN. After filing the CCN, the PUC assigned the application to a docket and decided whether the application should be approved and, if approved, which route will be constructed. The PUC carefully examined the application and took many factors into consideration in deciding whether to approve the proposed electric transmission line and which of the proposed alternative routes best met the requirements of the Public Utility Regulatory Act and the PUC’s rules.
All potentially impacted landowners had an opportunity to participate in the proceedings to consider the application. One way to become involved in the case before the PUC was to intervene in the proceeding. An intervenor is a person who, upon showing a justiciable interest, is permitted to become a party to the proceeding. Intervenors are full participants in the proceeding and make legal arguments, conduct discovery, file testimony, cross examine witnesses, and whose witnesses are subject to cross-examination by the other parties in the case. You must file a document requesting to intervene with the PUC that conforms to the rules and practices of the PUC, and mail the motion to all parties of record in the proceeding. The request to intervene can be in the form of a letter and must be filed with the PUC. The deadline for intervention in this proceeding was June 8, 2015.
If you do not wish to be a full participant in this proceeding, you may file comments with the PUC about the project. Those who filed comments or a protest were not parties to the case and did not conduct discovery, cross-examine witnesses, or present a direct case.
To see a copy of the PUC’s brochure “Landowners and Transmission Line Cases at the PUC”, please click here.
6. PUC Decision and Issuance of a Final Order
The PUC considers many factors in deciding whether to approve a proposed electric transmission line including community values, recreational and park areas, historic and aesthetic values, and environmental integrity. They also consider specific routing criteria for new lines including whether the route utilizes or parallels compatible rights-of-way such as following existing electric transmission lines, roads, pipelines, property lines, natural features, and cultural features. The PUC understands the critical designation of the project, and CenterPoint Energy is anticipating the PUC will approve the application in a timely manner and select one of the proposed alternative routes for construction. The PUC will issue a final order addressing all issues relating to the electric transmission line, including the final approved route that will be constructed.
On January 15, 2016 the PUC issued a final order in Docket 44547 approving route 1A-Modified. Route 1A-Modified consist of route segments B-F-LA-I3-LD-N1A-K3-N1C-H2-V2A-L3-A3-C3-D3A-M3-O3-P3-Q3-R3.
7. Right of Way (ROW) Activities
Notification of Route/Survey: After the PUC determines the route, CenterPoint Energy will contact landowners to discuss access to conduct a survey of the proposed easement across their property.
Initial Offer Letter: After completing the survey, CenterPoint Energy will make a bona fide, written offer to purchase the easement. As part of this initial offer, CenterPoint Energy will provide landowners any appraisal reports in the Company's possession relating specifically to property appraisals prepared in the prior ten years and will provide landowners with a copy of the Landowner’s Bill of Rights. Landowners can discuss the offer with others and to either accept or reject the initial offer within thirty days.
Final Offer Letter: Upon expiration of the initial offer, CenterPoint Energy will provide landowners with a final offer letter, which includes a written appraisal from a certified appraiser stating the market value of property, the compensation owed for the easement, and the damages, if any, to the remaining property. Landowners have the right to discuss the offer with others and either accept or reject the final offer within fourteen days. CenterPoint Energy will consider all reasonable counteroffers during this bona fide offer process.
Proceeding Filed: If an agreement is not reached within this forty-five day bona fide offer period, CenterPoint Energy may file a condemnation lawsuit to acquire the easement on the landowner's property. The lawsuit will be filed in the county where the property is located.
Special Commissioners’ Hearing: After the lawsuit is filed, the judge will appoint three local landowners to serve as Special Commissioners. The judge will provide a reasonable period of time (generally about fifteen days) to all parties to strike one of the Special Commissioners. If a Special Commissioner is struck, the judge will appoint a replacement. These Special Commissioners will take an oath to assess the amount of adequate compensation fairly, impartially, and according to the law. The Special Commissioners will schedule a hearing at the earliest practical time and place. Landowners will be provided at least twenty days written notice of the hearing.
Right to Object to the Award and Right of Possession: The Special Commissioners will determine the amount of money that landowners should be awarded to adequately compensate for the easement in a written “Award.” Any party may object to or appeal the Award. After the Award is filed with the court, CenterPoint Energy may take possession of the easement, even if either party appeals the Award of the Special Commissioners. To take possession of the easement, CenterPoint Energy will deposit the amount of the Award into the court’s registry and post the required bonds. Landowners have the right to withdraw funds that are deposited into the court’s registry. If an objection to the Award is filed by either party, the lawsuit will proceed to trial in the trial court. If no timely objections are filed, the Award becomes final and unappealable, and CenterPoint Energy will receive a judgment conveying title to the easement. Click here to see a copy of the Landowner Bill of Rights.
8. Transmission Construction
Surveying: Surveying of the transmission line ROW is required to locate the centerline, the structure locations, obstacles above and below ground, and the edges of both new and existing ROW. Surveying will be conducted after the PUC approves a route.
Clearing: Tree and shrub clearing may be needed in areas where new ROW is acquired. If a storm water pollution prevention plan (SWPPP) is required, it will be implemented along the approved route prior to the start of clearing. Mechanized cutters and hand tools will be used to remove impeding vegetation to ground level.
Structure Placement: Specialized wide-track vehicles and line trucks with trailers will be used to transport construction materials along the ROW to the structure locations. Typically, the concrete foundations will be installed several weeks before the steel lattice towers or steel poles are erected to allow the foundations to cure and reach their maximum strength.
The steel lattice towers will be delivered in bundles and set next to the proposed structure location shortly before structure erection. The towers will be assembled on-site, and a crane will be used to set the sections onto the previously installed foundations. Steel pole sections will be delivered to the site location shortly before the poles are ready to be set. A large crane would then set the pole sections onto the foundation.
Conductor and Static Wire Installation: Once the structures have been erected, the stringing and clipping-in of conductors and static wires will begin. Outages are not anticipated during the conductor and static wire installation. Each road crossing will have temporary guard poles installed for public protection while stringing in the new conductors. Existing transmission and distribution circuits will have either temporary guard poles and/or conductor shields installed for public and laborer protection while stringing in the new conductors.
Cleanup: Cleanup operations will be performed as construction activities are completed. Cleanup includes removal of debris, unused materials, and trash. Any necessary soil stabilization and reestablishing of vegetation cover will also occur during cleanup, following the procedures dictated in the SWPPP, if required. Pre-construction contours will also be restored following construction.