TransmissionHub: Industry completes construction on $1.12bn of new transmission in 1Q13

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After months of little to no activity, the U.S. transmission industry brought online or completed construction on seven projects totaling 600 miles of new transmission by the end of March, according to TransmissionHub data.

Six of the seven projects in 2013 were competitive renewable energy zone (CREZ) lines in Texas, and with the exception of one 138-kV project, all were 345-kV lines, totaling 543 line miles.

The seven projects together represent $1.12bn of investment.

The $6.87bn CREZ program, authorized by the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT), supports Texas’ build-out of renewable generation, primarily wind resources. The program ends this year, which will push into service over 30 transmission projects in 2013 alone.

In March, two CREZ projects were energized and two completed construction, representing 311 miles of line and $451m of investment.

Lone Star Transmission energized the Scurry County South to West Shackelford transmission line on March 6, and the Lower Colorado River Authority on March 11 energized the 138-kV Kendall to Miller Creek to Paleface line, spokespersons for each of the companies told TransmissionHub. Cross Texas Transmission, meanwhile, completed construction on its Gray to Tesla and Gray to White Deer lines, which it expects to energize this summer, the company told TransmissionHub.

On Feb. 23, Lone Star completed construction on the West Shackelford to Navarro-Sam Switch CREZ line, which it expects to energize by the end of March.

Including the completion of construction on the West Shackelford to Navarro-Sam Switch line, the industry completed construction on two other lines in February, including American Transmission Company’s Rockdale to West Middleton line in Wisconsin, which entered service on Feb. 19, and Sharyland UtilitiesSilverton to Cottonwood CREZ line in Texas, which completed construction in late February.

Together, these three projects represent 289 line miles and $672m of investment.

As these projects drew to a close, new projects came to light, the majority of which are in the Midwest. Entergy Arkansas, a subsidiary of Entergy (NYSE:ETR), is building out its system in southeast Arkansas to enhance reliability and meet growing electricity demand. The company is pursuing at least five 115-kV or 230-kV projects, which will largely enter service in the 2015-2017 timeframe.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is studying a new 230-kV line to replace a project that it had originally been planning to pursue with Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL), before the latter backed out of the project. The 120-mile San Luis Valley to Carson project would address reliability concerns and provide a second source of power into the San Luis Valley in Colorado. The project is expected to enter service in 2021.

Other projects saw significant developments, including the East Walton to Rockville project, which Georgia Transmission Corp. delayed indefinitely because of stagnant load growth.

The biggest project development was Portland General Electric’s (NYSE:POR) Cascade Crossing project, which the company in February pared back to 120 miles from 215 miles, and to $800m from $1bn. Construction on the project was also delayed by three years, and will now begin in 2017. The project is expected to be complete in the 2019-2020 timeframe. 

Disclaimer: As TransmissionHub is continually updating its data, this report may not include every transmission project update that occurred during the timeline that this article represents.

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.