Texas PUC rejects Calpine, NRG complaint over Houston grid project

The Texas Public Utility Commission on Dec. 16 rejected a complaint by Calpine Corp. (NYSE: CPN) and NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) that a new grid upgrade project from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas designed to get more power imported into the Houston area unfairly works against power producers in that area.

The Dec. 16 commission order said about the May 13 complaint from those Houston-area power producers: “The Commission finds that Calpine and NRG failed to show that ERCOT violated any law that the Commission has jurisdiction to administer, any order or rule of the Commission, or any protocol or procedure adopted by ERCOT. The Commission therefore denies the complaint and appeal.”

The Houston import project consists of the following six components: construction of a new 345-kV line terminating into the Limestone and Gibbons Creek substations, construction of a new 345-kV line terminating into the Gibbons Creek and Zenith substations, upgrades to the existing Limestone substation, upgrades to the existing Gibbons Creek substation, upgrades to the existing Zenith substation, and the upgrade of the existing T.H. Wharton-to-Addicks 345-kV line. The stated purpose of the project is to increase the transmission import capacity serving the Houston area from the northern regions of the ERCOT system.

In its independent review of the import plan, ERCOT performed a power-flow analysis to identify reliability-criteria violations on transmission lines importing power into the Houston area in 2018. ERCOT used the study case developed for the 2013 regional transmission plan (RTP) base case as the base case for its Houston import study.

During this case at the commission, Calpine and NRG said that ERCOT failed to take into account generation and cogeneration planned for the Houston region, including the Pondera King facility of Competitive Power Ventures, which has an interconnection agreement. As for 1,400 MW planned by NRG in the region, the company pointed to: the Cedar Bayou Unit 5, 2×1 combined cycle gas turbine facility (about 700 MW net); and SR Bertron Unit 5, 2×1 combined cycle gas turbine facility (about 700 MW net).

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.