ERCOT Board of Directors endorses project that includes two new 345-kV lines

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) on June 14 said that its Board of Directors has endorsed a transmission project that includes two new 345-kV lines to help address future reliability concerns in the growing region of Far West Texas.
“We continue to see a tremendous amount of load growth in West Texas,” Jeff Billo, ERCOT senior manager of transmission planning, said in the statement. “Based on projected load growth in this area, these new lines will be needed to support system reliability in the coming years.”

Increased oil and natural gas exploration in the Permian Basin area in Far West Texas has contributed to high load growth in the region, ERCOT said, adding that between 2010 and 2016, the average load growth in Far West Texas was about 8%. An increase in the number of generation projects, mostly solar, being developed in that region is also a factor, ERCOT said.

The new high-voltage power lines would be built by transmission service providers Oncor, American Electric Power Service Corporation (AEPSC), and the Lower Colorado River Authority Transmission Services Corporation, ERCOT said. Oncor and AEPSC initially proposed the project to the ERCOT Regional Planning Group in April 2016, ERCOT said.

An independent analysis performed by ERCOT confirmed the project’s necessity, ERCOT said, adding that it analyzed more than 40 options and proposed the most cost-effective option to meet reliability needs in the area.

The project would include a new 345-kV transmission line that would connect the Odessa and Riverton substations, ERCOT said, noting that the line would span about 101 miles across Ector, Winkler, Loving, and Reeves counties. In that area, peak electricity demand has jumped from 22 MW in 2010, to more than 200 MW last year, and it is projected to exceed 500 MW by 2021, ERCOT said.

The second new 345-kV transmission line would be located further south in Pecos County, spanning about 68 miles and connecting the Bakersfield and Solstice substations, ERCOT said.

The estimated capital cost for those improvements is $336m, ERCOT said, noting that it estimates that the project would be completed in the next four to five years, pending approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

An American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) spokesperson told TransmissionHub on June 15 that ERCOT’s endorsement is the first step in a long process.

The Odessa EHV-Riverton line would be an Oncor project, while the Bakersfield-Solstice line would be a joint project with AEP and the Lower Colorado River Authority Transmission Services Corporation, she said.

“At this point, only the start and end points and the type of line have been determined,” the spokesperson said. “We’ll begin siting studies to establish possible routes, and the line routes will help determine the estimated costs for each line. The siting studies will be followed by open houses to discuss the project with landowners and other stakeholders. All of this input will be used in the application submitted to the Public Utility Commission of Texas for approval. Getting to that point may take a year or more. Once filed, the procedural process associated with final approval can then take around a year.” 

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3056 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.