TransmissionHub: About $24.1bn worth of electric transmission projects covered so far in 2018

TransmissionHub on July 26 held its second TransmissionHub Forum, titled, “Renewable energy and the grid,” sponsored by MAPSearch, and featuring panelists: Himali Parmar, principal at ICF, Dr. Dariush Shirmohammadi, technical director of CalWEA and executive vice president of GridBright, Inc., as well as Dr. Brian Gemmell, vice president, Transmission Asset Management and Planning, at National Grid and vice president of WIRES Group.      

The first part of this two-part article presents an overview of some of the electric transmission projects that TransmissionHub is tracking to be in service in the next few years, as well as coverage of recent developments in the market involving renewable energy. The second part, to be published soon, will feature the panelists’ webcast presentations.

A replay of the webcast can be found here.

Transmission investments

From January to July, TransmissionHub has covered about $24.1bn worth of electric transmission projects in various stages of development, including about $1.8bn worth of projects that have been, or will be completed in 2018; and about $1.3bn in 2019. That also includes about $11bn in 2020; about $1.2bn in 2021; about $4.4bn in 2022; and about $1.1bn in 2023.

Several projects have been completed already this year, including the 70-mile, 765-kV Greentown-Reynolds project in Indiana by Pioneer Transmission LLC and NiSource’s (NYSE:NI) Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO). That project represents a $347m investment in the region’s transmission system, according to a June 26 statement announcing the project’s completion.

In a July 20 statement, Violet Sistovaris, executive vice president and president, NIPSCO, said, in part, that the project, along with the recently completed 100-mile, 345-kV Reynolds-Topeka line, broadens “access to renewable energy.”

Pioneer Transmission is a joint venture of Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) and American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP), as noted in the June 26 statement.

Another project, the Badger Coulee line, which is on schedule to be in service by the end of this year, is also designed to support renewable energy policy, according to American Transmission Company (ATC). ATC and Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) have received approval to build the approximately $580m, 180-mile line, as noted on ATC’s website.

2019

Projects that are expected to be in service in 2019 include the Mark Twain Transmission Project, which has an anticipated in-service date of December of that year.

Ameren in May said that its wholly owned subsidiary Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois (ATXI) has begun construction of the $250m, 96-mile, 345-kV project, which also involves a substation, to be built in northeast Missouri. The project is designed to bolster energy reliability for the region, according to Ameren.

Other projects expected to be completed next year include the $70.6m Spring Valley-N. Lake Geneva Project in Wisconsin, and the $10.1m Ross-Ginger Switch 138-kV Transmission Line Project in Ohio.

ATC on July 17 said that gross project expenditures for the Spring Valley-N. Lake Geneva Project as of June 30 were about $22.3m, or 31.5% of the authorized total of $70.6m.

As noted on the company’s website, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in March 2016 approved the project, which involves the construction of:

  • A new, approximately 23-mile, 138-kV transmission line that stretches from the existing North Lake Geneva substation in southern Walworth County to the existing Spring Valley substation in western Kenosha County
  • The new 138-kV and 69-kV Balsam substation on an ATC-owned parcel along Hwy. 50 in the Town of Wheatland
  • A new 69-kV transmission line to connect the new substation to the existing Twin Lakes substation in Twin Lakes

The Ross-Ginger Switch 138-kV Transmission Line Project involves AEP’s AEP Ohio Transmission Company rebuilding about 4.8 miles of the existing Berlin-Ross 69-kV transmission line in Springfield Township, Ross County, Ohio, to 138-kV standards.

2020

Projects that are expected to be in service in 2020 include the $4.5bn, 350-mile, 765-kV Wind Catcher Energy Connection. AEP’s Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) in June said that Louisiana regulators have approved the project, which includes the acquisition of a 2,000-MW wind farm under construction in the Oklahoma Panhandle, as well as construction of the dedicated power line that would carry the wind energy to the Tulsa area, where the existing grid would deliver it to customers in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas.

The wind farm is under development by Invenergy. SWEPCO also said that it and Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) will purchase the facility at completion, which is scheduled for 4Q20.

According to SWEPCO, the Wind Catcher project remains subject to the approval of the company’s application in Texas and PSO’s application in Oklahoma. PSO will own 30% of the project, while SWEPCO will own 70%.

Another project estimated to be in service in 2020 is the $2bn SunZia Southwest Transmission Project. SunZia Transmission LLC in March filed an application with New Mexico regulators seeking approval for the location of the project’s two 500-kV transmission lines and related facilities.

SunZia proposes to build and operate the two alternating current lines, as well as the associated facilities, in areas of New Mexico and Arizona. According to SunZia, the lines would extend about 520 miles and would have a total transfer capacity of 3,000 MW, which would include a substantial amount of energy generated by renewable resources, particularly high capacity factor wind energy resources in Lincoln, Torrance, and Guadalupe counties. SunZia expects to begin construction of the first 500-kV AC transmission line and related facilities this year, and to place the facility in commercial operation during 4Q20.

The Southline Transmission Project is another project that, according to its website, is designed to facilitate potential access to the renewable resource areas of southern New Mexico.

The Western Area Power Administration’s (WAPA) Desert Southwest Region and Hunt Power subsidiary Southline Transmission, L.L.C., signed a participation agreement in January, committing both parties to developing the project. Southline Transmission, L.L.C., is the project sponsor.

The project combines upgrades to WAPA’s existing electrical infrastructure and construction of new transmission lines to provide about 1,000 MW of transmission capacity along a 360-mile path between southern New Mexico and Arizona, a Feb. 5 statement noted.

WAPA and Hunt Power also said that construction is anticipated to begin in late 2018, with transmission operations phased into service starting in 2020.

Beyond 2020

Looking beyond 2020, TransWest Express LLC’s estimated $3bn, 730-mile, 600-kV direct-current TransWest Express Transmission Project, for instance, is estimated to be in service in 2021-2022.

According to that project’s website, California and Desert Southwest utilities do not have a direct way to access the benefits of Wyoming’s renewable energy resources without such new transmission lines as the TransWest Express. The project will make Wyoming’s wind-generated electricity available to utilities to serve citizens in more densely populated regions, according to the site.

Also, the 85-mile, 230-kV San Luis Transmission Project in California is expected to be in service in summer 2023. Duke-American Transmission Co., (DATC), WAPA, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, and the Bureau of Reclamation on Jan. 31 announced plans to move forward on that project, which is designed to enhance electric service to the San Joaquin Valley in California, according to a statement.

According to the chairman of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority board of directors, that project is designed to create opportunities to help California meet its renewable energy mandates by providing access to the grid for solar energy generated within the Valley.

A San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority spokesperson in February told TransmissionHub that the project is largely designed, and that the current project cost estimate is $323.5m, but that estimate continues to be refined.

Renewable energy news

A few examples of TransmissionHub’s recent coverage of renewable energy and energy storage include that New York regulators this month adopted an Offshore Wind Standard. The New York State Public Service Commission said that the primary components of the standard include initial procurement solicitations, to be held by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA, the New York Power Authority and/or Long Island Power Authority in 2018 and 2019, for offshore wind renewable energy credits associated with about 800 MW of offshore wind (i.e., Phase 1).

A statement from the New York governor’s office noted that to achieve New York’s 2,400 MW goal of new offshore wind generation by 2030, NYSERDA will procure about 800 MW of offshore wind through the solicitation issued in 4Q18, in consultation and coordination with NYPA and LIPA. Awards are expected to be announced in 2Q19, and if needed, a second solicitation will be issued in 2019.

In Iowa, the governor this year signed into law Senate File 2311, which, among other things, provides for a study of electric vehicle infrastructure support.

According to the legislation, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa utility industry, is to conduct a study of electric vehicle infrastructure support for commercial and non-commercial vehicles, as well as make recommendations to the General Assembly regarding electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The study is to evaluate the relative costs and benefits associated with various options for electric vehicle infrastructure support, the legislation added, noting that the Economic Development Authority is to submit a report to the General Assembly containing the results of the study by June 30, 2019.

Other examples of TransmissionHub’s coverage of renewable energy include that in Colorado, the governor in March signed various bills into law, including SB 18-009, which concerns the right of electricity consumers to interconnect energy storage systems for use on their property, according to a statement from the governor.

According to the signed act, the commission is to adopt rules allowing the installation, interconnection, and use of energy storage systems by customers of utilities. The commission is to incorporate certain principles into the rules, including that it is in the public interest to limit barriers to the installation, interconnection, and use of customer-sited energy storage systems in Colorado.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 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.