ETT and Sharyland Utilities seek OK to build 345-kV transmission in Rio Grande Valley

Electric Transmission Texas (ETT) and Sharyland Utilities on July 3 filed a joint application with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) for permission to construct a 345-kV transmission line proposed to extend from North Edinburg, Texas, to Loma Alta in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (Docket No. 41606).

“This is a joint project that will ensure continued reliable electric service for the Lower Rio Grande Valley, which is expected to continue to grow,” an ETT spokesperson told TransmissionHub July 8. “This transmission line will run from North Edinburg to just outside the ship channel of Brownsville.”

ETT is a joint venture between subsidiaries of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company

The proposed line would begin at AEP’s North Edinburg substation in Hidalgo County, extend south to a location near AEP’s existing South McAllen substation, then head east to the Brownsville Public Utilities Board’s Loma Alta substation near the Brownsville Ship Channel. Based on preliminary routing, the total transmission project could be from 96 to 125 miles, depending on the final route approved by the PUCT.

The line and associated ancillary facilities are known collectively as the Cross Valley Project, the spokesperson said.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has determined this project is critical for the reliability of the ERCOT system, and specifically the Brownsville area, ETT said in a statement announcing the filing. ERCOT endorsed the project in January 2012.

Since that time, ETT and Sharyland worked with a routing consultant to perform an environmental assessment and routing analysis for the proposed transmission line. In addition, the companies jointly hosted public open houses in October 2012 and in February 2013 to gather input.

The application comes on the heels of the PUCT’s approval of a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) to build the 345-kV Lobo-Rio Bravo-North Edinburg project connecting ETT’s existing Lobo substation near Laredo with substations north of Edinburg (Docket No. 40728).

Together, the projects will serve the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission and Brownsville-Harlingen-San Benito areas, which are consistently among the fastest growing metropolitan areas in Texas, according to the companies’ statement. The project will help ensure the continued stability and reliability of the system that serves customers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and will help communities in the region support efforts for future economic growth.

ETT will construct the western portion of the line, and Sharyland will construct the eastern portion. The estimated cost for the project ranges from $314m to $405m. Provided the PUCT acts on the application in a timely manner, the project is targeted for completion by summer 2016, the companies said.   

Sharyland is a Texas-based public electric utility that serves approximately 50,000 customers in 29 counties throughout Texas.