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Big Rivers asks for approval of Ky. segment of 345-kV transmission line

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Big Rivers asks for approval of Ky. segment of 345-kV transmission line

Big Rivers Electric Corp. asked Kentucky regulators to approve a part of a 345-kV transmission line, the first transmission project selected by the Midcontinent ISO through a competitive process.

In December 2016, MISO selected a proposal by Republic Transmission LLC, a partnership between private developer LS Power Group unit LS Power Associates LP and Indiana utility Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative Inc., to build the 345-kV Duff-Coleman line. The roughly 31-mile line is to run between the Duff substation in Dubois County, Ind., and Big Rivers Electric's Coleman substation in Hancock County, Ky., completing a 345-kV loop in southwestern Indiana and northwestern Kentucky.

The proposed line is intended to relieve transmission line congestion in southern Indiana and western Kentucky.

Big Rivers Electric in January told the Kentucky Public Service Commission that it would seek approval for the Kentucky portion of the line and on March 16 asked regulators to approve a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct and acquire a 3.3-mile segment to run from the Coleman substation to the Indiana border. Republic Transmission will build the line, but Big Rivers will acquire the Kentucky portion once it is completed. The application includes an asset purchase agreement between Big Rivers Electric and Republic Transmission outlining the terms of Big Rivers Electric's acquisition of the Kentucky segment. The cooperative asked for a ruling that confirms the commission does not need to approve this agreement.

In its application, Big Rivers Electric said the project will mitigate congestion on the MISO system around the Newtonville, Ind., and Coleman areas and strengthen the 345-kV backbone in the region. The project also will improve Big Rivers Electric's ability to import and export electrical power due to reduced congestion.

"The additional electrical power will allow economic expansion and provide employment opportunities for residents of Hancock County and the surrounding counties," the cooperative said. "Also, Big Rivers' anticipated return on its investment in the Kentucky portion could serve as an offset to future rate increases for Big Rivers' members."

Big Rivers Electric plans to finance the construction through the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture but said it may pay the cost of acquisition of the Kentucky portion from its cash reserves. The total cost of the Kentucky segment, including the necessary easements in Kentucky, is estimated to be $6 million.

Big Rivers Electric said the acquisition does not involve sufficient capital outlay to materially affect its existing financial condition and construction will not result in any increased charges to most retail customers of its members, the Jackson Purchase Energy Corp., Kenergy Corp. and Meade County Rural E C C. (Kentucky PSC Case No. 2018-00004)