Eleven Texas CREZ transmission projects remain to be completed by year-end

With the anticipated completion date of Dec. 31 now less than three months away, the October 2013 quarterly progress report issued by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) showed that the Texas competitive renewable energy zone (CREZ) projects should, with a single exception, be completed on time and, as a portfolio of projects, under budget.

That assessment is included in the 257-page CREZ quarterly progress report issued Oct. 7, detailing the progress of the 10 developers taking part in what was designed as a transmission build-out to transport renewable energy from the wind-rich areas of the Texas Panhandle and West Texas to the load centers of Dallas-Ft. Worth, Austin, San Antonio, and beyond. The completed CREZ projects will eventually transmit 18,500 MW of wind energy.

“Based upon information provided by [transmission service providers] TSPs at the time of this report, the estimated schedule completion date for the last project in the CREZ Program is December 31, 2013; with the exception of [Oncor Electric Delivery Service’s] Rocky Mound series compensation project,” the PUCT stated in the report, adding that “this will not delay or impact the in-service dates of the transmission lines affected by this project.”

Data contained in the report was submitted by Sept. 15, reflecting the progress of each TSP through Aug. 30.

The current estimated cost of the CREZ program, as reflected in the progress report, is $6.81bn, which represents an increase from the first revised figure of $6.56bn contained in the April 2011 report, but below the high of $6.95bn contained in the January 2012 report and a decline from the $6.82bn estimated in the July quarterly progress report.

There are several reasons for the variations, according to the report. The original estimate of $4.9bn, which resulted from the CREZ transmission optimization (CTO) study, was the outcome of “a planning exercise to develop multiple transmission plan scenarios from which to select the most cost effective and optimal scenario for execution,” according to the report. After the CTO was developed, an additional 70 projects were added, including three transmission lines comprising more than 600 miles of new transmission, and 67 associated facilities.

In addition, planners noted that the actual cost figure could be expected to range from 20% below the CTO estimate to 40% above the estimate, in part because large program cost estimates typically apply contingency markups to the base estimate to cover unknown or undefined variables, risks and uncertainties. A 40% contingency was applied to the original CTO estimate. Finally, planners noted, it is typical “to view estimated costs as a range of costs that becomes narrower, or more clearly defined, as the program continues through development and completion.”

Several TSPs are working to complete their final few projects.

Oncor Electric Delivery Company

Oncor Electric Delivery Company was responsible for developing 27 transmission lines, the largest number of any CREZ developer, and had the largest current budget estimate of $1.9bn for the lines and 37 station and equipment projects. As of the report date, two transmission lines remained to be completed.

Construction began on the 70-mile West Krum to Anna line on Aug. 10, 2012, and it was reported 63% complete at the time of the report. The line is planned to be completed and energized by Dec. 15. Construction is also underway on the 110-mile Clear Crossing to Willow Creek line. Construction began on Jan. 21, 2012, and is now 88% complete. The project is expected to be energized by Dec. 31.

Completed Oncor transmission line projects include:

Oncor reported spending $1.79bn on the lines and associated facilities including substations and compensation, below its current estimate of $1.92bn.

Electric Transmission Texas (ETT)

Electric Transmission Texas (ETT) was responsible for 11 transmission lines and 25 associated facilities, and is the second largest CREZ project developer by dollars to be spent. ETT is nearing completion of the last four of its transmission lines.

The company anticipates energizing the 34-mile Clear Crossing to West Shackelford line on Oct. 15, the 90-mile Clear Crossing to Dermott line on Oct. 22, the 79-mile Edith Clarke to Clear Crossing line on Oct. 23, and the last project, the 89-mile Edith Clarke to Cottonwood line, on Nov. 19, a company spokesperson told TransmissionHub on Oct. 7.

Transmission line projects completed and in service include:

To date, ETT has spent $1.4bn on the lines and associated facilities including substations and compensation, below its current estimate of $1.47bn.

Sharyland Utilities

Sharyland Utilities was responsible for five transmission lines and nine associated substation and equipment projects, and was the fifth-largest CREZ TSP by estimated budget. One transmission project, the 66-mile White Deer to Silverton line remains under construction. Reported 85% complete as of Aug. 31, it is planned to be energized Nov. 25. Sharyland reported all of its substation and equipment projects complete.

Four projects have entered service to date in 2013 with three entering service during 3Q13. The projects are the 93-mile Hereford to White Deer line, energized Aug. 22; the 26-mile Nazareth to Hereford line, energized Aug. 21; the 47-mile Nazareth to Silverton line, energized Aug. 20; and the 66-mile Silverton to Cottonwood line, energized April 29.

Sharyland reported spending $551.3m on the lines and associated facilities including substations and compensation, below its current estimate of $630.2m.

South Texas Electric Cooperative (STEC)

South Texas Electric Cooperative (STEC) was initially responsible for three transmission lines. The proposed North McCamey to Odessa line was combined with another project to form the 76-mile Odessa to Bakersfield line, which started construction on Dec. 18, 2012. It was reported 46% complete as of the report date, with an expected in-service date of Dec. 31. The 112-mile Bakersfield to Big Hill line was energized Aug. 31.

STEC reported spending $169.2m on the lines and associated facilities including substations and compensation, below its current estimate of $238.2m.

Wind Energy Transmission Texas (WETT)

The third-largest CREZ developer by estimated budget, Wind Energy Transmission Texas (WETT) was initially responsible for seven transmission lines and eight associated station and equipment projects. As of Aug. 31, three transmission projects remain under construction and each was reported 79% complete. The 37-mile Sand Bluff to Divide line began construction Aug. 15, 2012, while construction on the 77-mile Long Draw to Sand Bluff line began Sept. 15, 2012, and construction on the 29-mile Sand Bluff to Bearkat line began Nov. 26, 2012. All three lines are expected to enter service Nov. 15.  

The 55-mile Long Draw to Grelton and the 51-mile Scurry County South to Long Draw lines entered service on Sept. 30, a WETT spokesperson told TransmissionHub Oct. 8, while the 50-mile Grelton to Odessa line entered service Aug. 21, according to the report. The 74-mile Cottonwood to Dermott line was energized April 15.

WETT reported spending $750m on the lines and associated facilities including substations and compensation to date, slightly above its current estimate of $749.7m.

Several TSPs have completely finished their slates of CREZ projects.

Bandera Electric Cooperative

Bandera Electric Cooperative was responsible for rebuilding the existing 15-mile, 138-kV Bandera to Verde Creek line and installing an associated autotransformer. Both projects were completed in June 2010, on time and within baseline estimates, at a total cost of approximately $5.9m.

Brazos Electric Cooperative

Brazos Electric Cooperative’s single project was the addition of an autotransformer to its Whitney substation. The project was completed in June 2009 at a cost of approximately $16.5m.

Cross Texas Transmission

Cross Texas Transmission was responsible for three transmission lines and three associated facilities.

The 85-mile Silverton to Tesla project was completed in August and energized Sept. 13. The 109-mile Gray to Tesla line was completed in February but not energized until Aug. 15. The 42-mile Gray to White Deer line was also completed in February and energized Aug. 30. Three associated substation and equipment projects are also reported as complete. To date, Cross Texas has spent $399m in total for its CREZ projects against a current estimate of $433.2m.

Lone Star Transmission

The fourth-largest CREZ developer by budget, Lone Star Transmission energized all three of the transmission lines it was responsible for building during 1Q13.

The 103-mile Scurry County South to West Shackelford line was energized on March 6, while the 192-mile West Shackelford to Navarro/Sam Switch line was energized on March 20 despite delays stemming from a landowner dispute, while the 35-mile Sam Switch to Navarro line was energized on March 21. In addition, six associated facilities have also been energized, according to the report.

Lone Star reported spending $717.6m on the lines and associated facilities including substations and compensation, below its current estimate of $746.2m.

Lower Colorado River Authority Transmission Service Corporation (LCRA)

All of Lower Colorado River Authority Transmission Service Corporation’s (LCRA) remaining transmission and facility projects have been completed. LCRA was initially responsible for 13 transmission lines and 22 associated facilities, according to the report, although two transmission line projects and five associated facilities were subsequently cancelled.

The 139-mile Big Hill to Kendall transmission line was energized Sept. 5, making it the final LCRA transmission segment to be placed into service. The other transmission projects in service include:

  • The 57-mile Kendall to Miller Creek to Paleface line rebuild, energized June 30.
  • The 38-mile Twin Buttes to Big Hill line, energized May 23.
  • The 34-mile Mason to Pittsburgh transmission line, energized Dec. 12, 2011.
  • The 15-mile Tippet to North McCamey Line, energized Oct 1, 2010.
  • The 88-mile Twin Buttes to Brown line, energized June 14, 2010.
  • The 31-mile Divide Twin Buttes line upgrade, energized June 3, 2010.
  • The 24-mile Goldthwaite to Evant line rebuild, energized May 24, 2010.
  • The quarter -mile Kendall CTEC line rebuild, energized Sept. 30, 2009.
  • The two-mile Raymond Barker to Verde Creek line rebuild, energized Dec. 11, 2009.

To date, LCRA has spent $585.4m on the lines and associated facilities including substations and compensation, below its current estimate of $597.7m.