Update: Progress in Power for the Plains project

Construction work is in full swing on Southwestern Public Service Company’s (SPS) TUCO-to-Texas/Oklahoma Interconnect project, the largest in a suite of 17 projects called “Power for the Plains” which, when completed, will result in more than $1bn in new transmission facilities across parts of Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

The first steel H-frame single circuit towers were erected June 18 following right-of-way acquisition and two months of foundation construction, an Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) spokesperson told TransmissionHub Aug. 13. SPS is a subsidiary of Xcel Energy.

The 200-mile, 345-kV transmission line will connect the existing SPS TUCO substation located north of the town of Abernathy in Hale County, Texas, to the Border substation between the towns of Texola and Erick in Beckham County, Okla., where it will connect to the 110-mile Woodward to Border line being built by Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) and slated to enter service in 2014.

In addition to improving reliability and strengthening the area’s existing transmission grid, the line will provide an outlet for additional renewable wind generation in the Texas Panhandle, eastern New Mexico and western Oklahoma, according to the project website. The cost is estimated at $185m, and the project is expected to enter service June 1, 2014.

Construction began in April on the Hitchland-Woodward 345-kV project, which will extend approximately 120 miles from Xcel Energy’s Hitchland substation in Hansford County, Texas, just north of the town of Gruver, to an OG&E substation near Woodward, Okla. SPS will own approximately 30 miles of the line, including one mile in Texas and 29 miles in Oklahoma. The cost is estimated at $43m for SPS’s portion of the project, a decline from the previous estimate of $47m. The line is expected to enter service on June 30, 2014.

Smaller projects progress

The Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT) issued a certificate of convenience and necessity (CCN) for the 115-kV Bowers-Howard project on June 19. The project will extend 34 miles from the Bowers substation, 3 miles west of Lefors, Texas to the existing Howard substation in Wheeler, Texas. The $19m project, which will enhance electric reliability to the existing and growing loads in the area, is expected to enter service on May 31, 2014.

Construction work continues on the smallest of the projects: the Rolling Hills-Hastings project north of Amarillo in Potter County, Texas. The 3.5-mile, 115-kV line and new Rolling Hills substation will improve electric reliability, including load-serving capability in the Amarillo metropolitan service area. The $14.7m project is expected to enter service on Dec. 31.

Four projects radiating from the new Newhart substation northeast of Hart, Texas, have experienced delays from their previously anticipated in-service dates of late 2013 or early 2014. All four lines are now expected to enter service on April 30, 2015.

The Newhart-Castro 115-kV line will extend 24 miles to the existing Castro substation southwest of Dimmitt, Texas, at an estimated cost of $15.6m. The Newhart-Swisher 230-kV line will extend 19 miles to the existing Swisher substation near Tulia, Texas, at an estimated cost of $15m. The Newhart-Kress 115-kV line will extend 18 miles to the existing Kress substation, also near Tulia, at an estimated cost of $15m. The Newhart-Lamton 115-kV project, will extend 15 miles from the Newhart substation to the Lamton substation in Lamb County, Texas, at an estimated cost of $13.3m.

The lines are being built to maintain electric reliability in Castro, Parmer, Swisher, Bailey, Lamb and Hale counties in Texas as customer load growth and new generation resources are added to the transmission grid.

Other projects in various stages of development include the Pleasant Hill-Oasis-Roosevelt 230-kV project, which consists of two segments: a 16-mile Pleasant Hill-Oasis segment from the Pleasant Hill substation north of Clovis, N.M., to an intertie near the Oasis substation, and the 26-mile Pleasant Hills-Roosevelt line between the Pleasant Hills substation and the Roosevelt substation south of the city. The project will reduce overloads and low voltage conditions in eastern New Mexico and provide needed capacity for future growth in the area. The estimated cost is $35.4m with a targeted in-service date of Dec. 31, 2014.

Construction on the Kiser-Cox and Kiser-Kress 115-kV projects began with the start of construction on the Kiser substation in February. Construction on the 8.7-mile Kiser-Cox line will start in the fall, and is estimated to cost $6.4m. The anticipated in-service date is Feb. 28, 2014. The 25-mile Kiser-Kress line is estimated to cost $14.4m and is expected to enter service on Nov. 30, 2014. Both lines are planned to improve electric reliability and increase the capability of the existing transmission grid in and around the city of Plainview, Texas.

SPS filed its CCN application and environmental assessment (EA) with the PUCT on May 1 for the proposed Ochiltree-Lipscomb 115-kV project. Previously called the Ochiltree-Booker project, it will connect the existing Ochiltree County substation north of Perryton, Texas to the new Lipscomb substation east of the town of Booker. The project will run between 19 and 25 miles, depending on the route approved by the PUCT, is expected to cost $13.9m and is expected to be in service in December 2015.

Five projects completed and in service

The Amarillo South-Randall County transmission line entered service April 22. The 8-mile, 230-kV line will improve electric reliability and increase the capability of the existing transmission grid in and around the city of Amarillo at an estimated total project cost of $18m, including needed substation work.

The 38-mile Hitchland-Ochiltree project entered service on Feb. 21. The 230-kV line extends from the existing Hitchland substation located in the north central Texas Panhandle region to the new Ochiltree County substation near Perryton, Texas, and is serving load growth in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle areas. Xcel Energy puts the final cost of the project at $28m, up from the estimated cost of $26.6m. 

The Hitchland-Moore 230-kV line was placed in service in June 2012. The 62-mile line, which runs between the Hitchland substation in the north central Texas Panhandle area to the Moore County substation near Dumas, Texas, will help serve load growth in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle areas and will improve reliability by providing a second 230-kV source to the Moore County substation. The cost of the project was $33.9m.

Portions of two projects that are part of the overall effort have entered their third year in service.

The 37.4-mile Dallam-Sherman 115-kV line was placed into service on April 30, 2011 at a cost of approximately $10.5m. The project serves the existing and growing loads in Dallam and Sherman counties that, in part, are expanding due to growth in the area’s oil and gas industry.

The 33.4-mile Dallam-Channing segment of the two-segment, 75-mile Dallam-Channing-Potter County, Texas, 230-kV line was energized on Aug. 5, 2011, while the 41.7-mile Channing-Potter County line was placed in service in April 2012. The cost of the project was $47.7m.

The Power to the Plains project was approved in the spring of 2010 by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) to help improve electric reliability, strengthen the existing transmission grid and provide an outlet for additional renewable wind generation.

In conjunction with the SPP directive, SPS proposed a suite of projects to be completed by the end of 2015 to update its network to better suit current growth patterns in its service territory. The upgrades will also improve the utility’s ability to connect to the rest of the eastern grid, which will improve its import capability for its summer peak and its ability to export renewable energy.