Environmental Opportunities and Challenges with Siting New Transmission Lines: Stephen Cain (Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation) Environmental Law Section (Ark. Bar Association) Presentation

Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.

Download PDF

Stephen Cain undertook a presentation at the September 25th Arkansas Bar Association Environmental Law Section meeting titled:

Environmental Opportunities and Challenges with Siting New Transmission Lines (“Presentation”)

Mr. Cain is the Manager of Environmental Compliance for Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (“AECC”).

Mr. Cain’s Presentation addressed a number of environmental and related regulatory issues associated with the construction and operation of electricity transmission lines. A particular focus was addressing Endangered Species Act issues associated with Arkansas transmission line projects.

By way of background, Mr. Cain provided an overview of AECC, noting:

  • Not-for-profit generation and transmission electric cooperative
  • Founded in 1949 to provide wholesale electricity to Arkansas’ distribution cooperatives
  • 17 Member cooperatives covering approximately 62% of the state with more than 500,000 members

AECC’s generation assets were also described, including:

  • Seven natural gas plants (three with fuel oil backup)
  • Three hydroelectric plants
  • Co-owns (but does not operate) six coal units
  • Multiple power purchase agreements with wind, solar, hydro, etc.
  • Market purchased power

The evolution of AECC’s energy supply from 2016 (Total Non-Fossil = 15.4%) to 2017 (Total Non-Fossil = 17.5%) was discussed.

The role of transmission was addressed by noting that the organization currently owns/operates about 350 miles of transmission lines (including new transmission projects initiated in 2013).

A variety of generation and transmission terms were described, which include:

Generation Terms

Transmission Terms

CAIR/CSAPR

SWPPP

MATS

STAA

Regional Haze/BART

SPCC Plan

NESHAP/MACT

404 Permit

NSPS

Cultural Resources

Title V

IPaC

PSD/NSR/BACT

Endangered Species

BART

 

The role of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) in the acquisition of USDA/RUS loans was addressed. As noted, an environmental review of a proposed project must be completed before RUS loans are approved. Depending on the project, a document may be required such as an:

  • Environmental Report
  • Environmental Assessment
  • Environmental Impact Statement

Additional issues associated with environmental surveys and reports include:

  • Clean Water Act 404/Wetland Delineation
  • Cultural Resources
  • Endangered Species Act (“ESA”)

Other sources of review/permits include:

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (determination of loss of prime farmland or farmland of statewide importance
  • Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (large construction projects/Notice of Intent and Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan submittal for coverage under general stormwater permit construction activities)

A particular focus of the Presentation included ESA issues addressing:

  • IPaC Report (information for planning and consultation)
    • List of endangered species believed to exist in area of project
    • Any critical habitats of endangered species that the project may impact

The various endangered bats in Arkansas were listed and described, including a Candidate Bat (i.e., Tri-colored Bat). The discussion included issues such as White-Nose Syndrome and roosting trees.

The Presentation noted that general language from IPaC report for projects in Arkansas states:

If your species list includes any mussels, Northern Long-eared Bat, Indiana Bat, Yellowcheek Darter, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, or American Burying Beetle, your project may require a presence/absence survey prior to commencing project activities.

Consultation areas in Arkansas were identified and the need to in some circumstances contact the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and/or purchase data from the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission was addressed. Equally important was the discussion of on-the-ground bat surveys.

AECC’s experience with artificial bat habitat was also addressed.

A copy of the slides from the Presentation can be downloaded here.

Written by:

Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.
Contact
more
less

Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C. on:

Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide
- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.