TransmissionHub: Nearly $170bn of North American transmission to come online by 2020

FERC Order 679 updated 7/16/12


Transmission project spending in North America will ramp up significantly between 2012 and 2015, with $68.6bn of projects scheduled to come online during that four-year period, according to TransmissionHub data.

A total of $169.7bn of transmission projects is expected to come online between 2012 and 2020.

Excluding suspended and canceled transmission projects, nearly $7bn of projects representing about 3,100 miles of lines, the majority of which are 230-kV, are scheduled to come online in 2012.

In 2013 and 2014, that annual investment will more than double, with investments of $15.4bn and $15.3bn, respectively representing 5,600 miles and 6,100 miles of lines.

That annual investment will more than double again in 2015, to $31bn, representing 9,700 miles of lines.

For the 2016-2020 period, North American transmission investment is expected to amount to $101.2bn, with the majority of that spend, $74.3bn, taking place at the front end of that range, or 2016-2018.

These projects include those that are under construction or are still in the planning phase.

For 2012, the largest project to come online is the Sunrise Power Link, a $1.9bn 500-kV line to run 117 miles from El Centro, Calif., to San Diego, Calif. The project is sponsored by San Diego Gas & Electric, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE).

The next largest project scheduled to come online this year is Hydro One‘s $695m Bruce to Milton line in Ontario, Canada. The project involves a 500-kV line that will run 112 miles to bring 3,000 MW of energy from renewable sources to load centers.

NV Energy‘s (NYSE:NVE) $510m One Nevada, or ON Line project, which had an original in-service year of 2012, has been pushed back to 2013 due to a delay caused by wind-related damage to certain towers. The project will run 235 miles from the Harry Allen substation in Clark County, Nev. to the Thirtymile substation in White Pine County, Nev.

The only other two 500-kV lines scheduled to enter service this year are Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) Grand Coulee and West of McNary projects, according to TransmissionHub. BPA completed the West of McNary project 10 months ahead of schedule and energized it in late February. The one-mile Grand Coulee project is currently under construction.

There are 62 projects scheduled to come online this year; 16 are 345-kV lines, 20 are 230-kV, 12 are 138-kV, and seven are 115-kV. Of the 107 projects to come online in 2013, 45 are 345-kV, 18 are 230-kV, 12 are 138-kV and nine are 115-kV.

American Electric Power‘s (NYSE:AEP) $650m, 765-kV MEC project is also expected to come online next year. MEC is a 180-mile line that originates at Kewaunee substation, Ill., and terminates at Hazelton, Iowa.

The number of 500-kV projects to come online in 2013 will rise to 14 from four in 2012. These include Altalink‘s $658m Heartland project in Alberta, Canada and Southern California Edison‘s (SCE) $697m Devers to Colorado River project in California. SCE is a unit of Edison International (NYSE:EIX).

In 2014, 84 projects are expected to be completed, of which 10 are 500-kV, 22 are 345-kV, 29 are 230-kV, seven are 138-kV and 12 are 115-kV.

One 765-kV project is expected to come online in 2014, the planned $500m Tallgrass line, a joint effort between AEP and MidAmerican Energy Holdings.

The $175m, 345-kV Fayetteville-Zenith project, originally expected to enter service in 2014 and sponsored by CenterPoint Energy (NYSE:CNP), was indefinitely delayed after legislation in Texas altered the criteria used by the Public Utility Commission of Texas to evaluate proposed projects.

In 2015, 97 projects are expected to come online, of which 17 are 500-kV, 27 are 345-kV, 31 are 230-kV, nine are 138-kV and five are 115-kV.

Among the 500-kV projects to come online that year are Northeast Transmission Development‘s $2.4bn 283-mile Liberty project and Northeast Utilities‘ (NYSE:NU) $1.9bn New England East-West Solution (NEEWS).

The controversial 500-kV Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line proposed by PPL (NYSE:PPL) and Public Service Enterprise Group (NYSE:PEG) is also scheduled to come online in 2015.

The number of projects expected to come online in 2016 will dip to 41, but will include some of the arguably highest profile projects in the industry, including ITC Holdings‘ (NYSE:ITC) Michigan 765-kV Backbone project; Transmission Developers Inc.‘s $1.9bn Champlain Hudson Power Express project; Clean Line Energy’s $1.7bn Rock Island line; Northeast Utilities’ $1.1bn Northern Pass project; and SunZia Transmission‘s $1bn SunZia Southwest project.

In 2017, transmission investment will increase to $12.6bn in 48 projects, which include Clean Line Energy’s $3.5bn Plains & Eastern and $1.7bn Grain Belt Express projects, both of which are 600-kV HVDC projects; TransWest Express and Western Area Power Authority’s 600-kV, $3bn TransWest Express project and Manitoba Hydro‘s 500-kV, $1.3bn Bipole III project.

In 2018, five projects comprise $13.3bn of the total $18.6bn of transmission projects to come online. These include Idaho Power‘s $3.7bn, 500-kV Gateway West project; Duke-American Transmission Company‘s (DATC) $3.5bn, 500-kV Zephyr project; Clean Line Energy’s $2.5bn, 600-kV Centennial West project; DATC’s $2bn, 500-kV Northwestern Iowa to Central Illinois project; and RITELine Transmission Development‘s $1.6bn, 765-kV Reliability Interregional Transmission Extension line project, or RITELine.

In 2019 and 2020, a total of 40 projects are planned or under construction, totaling $26.8bn of investment. Nearly half of that total comprises the $12.4bn, 765-kV Green Power Express project sponsored by ITC. PacifiCorp‘s $6bn, 500-kV Energy Gateway project; SCE’s $2.2bn, 500-kV Tehachapi Renewable transmission project: and Pepco Holdings‘ (NYSE:POM) $1bn, 500-kV Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway are also scheduled to come online during the 2019-2020 time frame.

About Rosy Lum 525 Articles
Rosy Lum, Analyst for TransmissionHub, has been covering the U.S. energy industry since 2007. She began her career in energy journalism at SNL Financial, for which she established a New York news desk. She covered topics ranging from energy finance and renewable policies and incentives, to master limited partnerships and ETFs. Thereafter, she honed her energy and utility focus at the Financial Times' dealReporter, where she covered and broke oil and gas and utility mergers and acquisitions.