Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) on March 2 energized the new $39m, 115-kV, 38-mile Bowers–Howard transmission project between the Bowers substation near Lefors in Gray County and the Howard substation in the city of Wheeler in Wheeler County in the eastern Texas Panhandle.
The company also said in its March 3 statement that the project, which will help sustain industrial development and position the regional economy for continued growth as electricity demand increases, also includes significant upgrades at the Bowers and Howard substations to accommodate the new line.
The new line was envisioned six years ago when the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) identified possible bottlenecks and voltage issues in the eastern Panhandle, which had not seen significant upgrades in power infrastructure in decades, the company said. Xcel said that it took on the project as part of its Power for the Plains transmission enhancement initiative, and started planning the project in 2012.
As noted on the Power for the Plains website, Xcel subsidiary Southwestern Public Service (SPS) has launched that $1.6bn transmission expansion plan in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
“The demands on the transmission network have grown over the past decade with increased oil and gas drilling and the ensuing growth in industries that add value to these raw materials,” Donnie TeBeest, Xcel Energy project manager, said in the statement. “Without the new line, it would have been a challenge to regulate the flow of power in that area while meeting the growing needs for electricity.”
SPS President David Hudson said in the statement, “The Bowers-to-Howard project is one of dozens of high-value improvements we have completed in recent years.”
Xcel said that since July 2014, it has invested $1bn in new power lines, substations and upgraded power generating facilities across its Texas-New Mexico service area. Through 2020, that number is expected to exceed $3bn in improvements, the company said.
The Power for the Plains initiative is improving the reliability and capacity of the region’s high-voltage transmission network, as well as providing opportunities to tap cheaper power sources, the company said.
New transmission connections to the east are saving close to $60m annually in purchased power costs, Xcel said, adding that the improvements are also providing pathways to move wind and solar power generated in that region to new markets. Xcel noted that it has added 750 MW of additional wind energy capacity to its regional energy mix since 2015, and plans to add another 140 MW of solar energy capacity by the end of 2016.
According to the Power for the Plains website, in-service projects include:
- The estimated $205m, 202-mile, 345-kV TUCO–Woodward transmission line, which connects the existing SPS TUCO substation located about two miles north of Abernathy in Hale County, Texas, to an interconnect point located between Texola and Erick in Beckham County, Okla.
- The estimated $88m, 42-mile, 230-kV Potash Junction–Roadrunner transmission project, which includes the estimated $59m line between the new Roadrunner substation located about 42 miles southeast of Carlsbad, N.M., and the Potash Junction substation located about 15 miles northeast of Carlsbad; the line is built as 345 kV, but initially being operated at 230 kV, and a $23m conversion to 345 kV has an in-service date of 2018. An estimated $29m, 115-kV static VAR compensator being installed at the Roadrunner substation is expected to be in service by April 1
- The estimated $60m, 120-mile, 345-kV Hitchland–Woodward transmission line built by Xcel and Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) that runs from Xcel’s Hitchland substation in Hansford County, Texas, just north of Gruver, to an OG&E substation near Woodward, Okla. Xcel’s portion of the line extends 30 miles
According to the website, active projects that are expected to be in service soon include:
- The estimated $14m, 2.1-mile, 115-kV Andrews–National Enrichment Facility (NEF) transmission line that runs between the Andrews substation on the Texas border, about seven miles from Eunice, N.M., to the NEF substation located five miles southeast of Eunice; its proposed in-service date is April 4
- The estimated $12m, 11-mile, 115-kV Wheeler to Coburn Creek transmission line, which runs between the existing Wheeler substation located about five miles southeast of Wheeler, and the Coburn Creek substation, which will be built along State Highway 152, about eight miles east of Wheeler; its proposed in-service date is June 1
- The estimated 14m, 19.5-mile, 115-kV Ochiltree–Lipscomb transmission line, which will connect the existing Ochiltree substation north of Perryton to a new Lipscomb substation in Booker, which is located at the intersection of Edinburgh Rd (State Highway 23) and East Industrial Avenue (State Highway 15); its proposed in-service date is also June 1