ETT completes three CREZ transmission projects

Electric Transmission Texas (ETT) has completed all but one of the transmission projects it was responsible for building under the Texas competitive renewable energy zone (CREZ) transmission initiative.

ETT energized the 79-mile Edith Clarke to Clear Crossing line on Oct. 22; will energize the 90-mile Clear Crossing to Dermott line on Oct. 24; and expects to energize the final two projects, the 34-mile Clear Crossing to West Shackelford line on Nov. 13 and the 89-mile Edith Clarke to Cottonwood line on Nov. 14, ETT spokesperson Larry Jones told TransmissionHub Oct. 23. Construction on the Edith Clarke to Cottonwood line was completed on Oct. 16.

There were positive facets to the way the CREZ process unfolded, including early public outreach that resulted in widespread buy-in that helped the projects move smoothly, he said.

“Out of 600 parcels of land, only one went all the way through the condemnation process,” Jones said. “That’s unheard of.”

ETT, which is a joint venture between subsidiaries of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, was responsible for a total of 11 transmission lines and 25 associated facilities, and was the second largest CREZ project developer by dollars to be spent.

According to the most recent CREZ quarterly update released by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) on Oct. 7, ETT has  spent $1.4bn on the lines and associated facilities including substations and compensation, below its estimated total CREZ investment of approximately $1.5bn.     

ETT energized the first of its seven new CREZ lines, the Riley to Edith Clarke transmission line, on July 31. The 345-kV line is 41.6 miles long and runs from the Vernon area in Wilbarger County, Texas, to the area of Crowell in Foard County, Texas. Two more lines were energized in quick succession. The developer energized the 66-mile Tesla to Riley line Aug. 13 followed by the 55-mile Tesla to Edith Clarke line on Aug. 20.

The 3.5-mile Riley Line to Oklaunion 345-kV line, completed in Nov. 2011, and the rebuild of three lower-voltage lines completed in 2012 were also among ETT’s CREZ projects.

Now that the CREZ projects are nearing completion, Jones said ETT is focusing on the transmission projects proposed for the Rio Grande Valley, including the Cross-Valley Project, which ETT is developing jointly with Sharyland Utilities (Docket No. 41606). Depending on the final route approved by the PUCT, the total transmission project could be from 96 to 125 miles and will link AEP’s North Edinburg substation in Hidalgo County, Texas to the Brownsville Public Utilities Board’s Loma Alta substation near the Brownsville Ship Channel.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) endorsed the project in January 2012, calling it critical for the reliability of the ERCOT system, and specifically the Brownsville, Texas area.

That project is one of several being proposed to serve the rapidly growing area around Brownsville. Others include the $318m Lobo-Rio Bravo-North Edinburg project, which will include construction of approximately 156 miles of double-circuit 345-kV transmission lines connecting ETT’s existing Lobo substation near Laredo, Texas, with substations north of Edinburg, Texas. The PUCT unanimously approved a certificate of convenience and necessity for that project May 9 (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 statement the companies issued July 8. 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.

Originally published on Oct. 25, this story was amended on Oct. 28 to update the completion and energization dates for the Edith Clarke to Cottonwood line.