Three NW Texas panhandle lines placed in service

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) has completed three high-voltage transmission lines that will enhance reliability in the northwest Panhandle of Texas and facilitate the transmission of renewable energy.

The lines are among 13 major projects that are part of the company’s Power for the Plains initiative. The projects were approved in 2010 by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) to serve several states, including Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, and will help improve electric reliability, strengthen the existing transmission grid and provide pathways for additional renewable wind generation.

“The projects add capacity to the system and, at the same time, make the system more reliable,” an Xcel Energy spokesperson told TransmissionHub Oct. 29. “This is just a huge growth period for us.”

The upgrades include a new 75-mile, 230-kV Dallam-Channing-Potter line that will enhance reliability in the area of Channing, Texas, and in the rural areas between Channing and the communities of Dalhart and Dumas. The $47.7m line will also improve transmission reliability and capacity to Dallam, Hartley and Moore counties, according to the company.

Upgrades also include a new Dallam-to-Sherman-to-Hitchland 115-kV line to enhance electric reliability to the existing and growing loads in Dallam and Sherman counties. Over the last eight years, the electrical load in the area has increased by nearly 24%, according to Xcel Energy.

In addition, the recently completed 62-mile Hitchland-to-Moore 230-kV line will serve load growth in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle areas and improve reliability by providing a second 230-kV source to the Moore County substation. The Hitchalnd-to-Moore line cost $33.9m to build.

“We’ve seen tremendous economic growth in Dalhart, Dumas, Stratford and neighboring communities where local economies are being lifted by agriculture and energy-related industries,” Riley Hill, president and CEO of Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS), said in a written statement. SPS is a subsidiary of Xcel Energy.

Other projects include the TUCO to Texas/Oklahoma Interconnect 345-kV project that will consists of approximately 200 miles of transmission line connecting the existing SPS TUCO substation located in Hale County, Texas, to a proposed interconnect point in Beckham County, Okla. The $185m project is expected to be in service in June 2014.

The other 345-kV project will connect Xcel Energy’s Hitchland substation in Hansford County, Texas to an Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) substation near Woodward, Okla. SPS will own approximately 30 miles of the 120-mile transmission line, and will pay $47m of the total project cost. The line is expected to be in service in June 2014.

Additional transmission projects include four 230-kV projects and eight 115-kV projects. In-service dates range from the fall of 2012 to mid-2014

“We have this [current] energy boom, so we have a lot that we can do now, and then hopefully what we do now will be adequate to prepare us for the future,” the spokesperson said. “Our long-term desire is that we’re trying to connect better to the east.”