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New Transmission to Support Texas Renewable Energy

August 10, 2011

The Texas panhandle is a huge source for Texas renewable energy, particularly wind and solar power, and could generate several megawatts of additional clean Texas electricity that would supply the needs of the state. However, without the proper transmission lines and required infrastructure that would deliver the generated electricity to urban areas and communities who will use the additional power, all the potential clean energy that could be generated can go to waste.

To address this need, the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas approved a $4.93 billion plan in 2008 to build additional transmission lines capable of delivering up to 18.456 megawatts of Texas electricity from the renewable energy farms in the Texas panhandle and West Texas to other parts of the state. The transmission projects will be part of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) will oversee the designs and construction of these new transmission lines.

Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) 

A Competitive Renewable Energy Zone or CREZ is an area designated by the Public Utility Commission where renewable energy facilities will be installed and from where additional transmission lines will be enacted as a cost-effective means of delivering clean Texas electricity to the metropolitan areas. This is in line with the mandate to increase the amount of electricity generated through renewable means by up to 6,000 megawatts by January 1, 2015 and an additional 10,000 megawatts by January 1, 2025.

Once in place, the CREZ can delivery clean, renewable and cheap electricity to the metropolitan centers in Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio and will significantly reduce reliance of carbon-emitting fossil fuels for generating Texas electricity. ERCOT has completed the CREZ Reactive Power Study that would determine the additional controls and conditions that would improve the routing of the generated renewable energy through the electrical grid. Completion of the CREZ is expected by the end of the year 2013.

New Transmission Lines

Texasresidents have the power to choose their energy options and many would gladly support use of Texas electricity generated from renewable energy resources. To achieve this, additional transmission lines are currently being built to deliver generated power from the CREZ and into the metropolitan and industrial areas. Several companies were tapped and awarded by the Public Utility Commission to construct the hundreds of miles of additional transmission lines as well as the required substations.

One such company which was given approved Certificates of Convenience and Necessity is the Electric Transmission Texas (ETT), a joint venture between MidAmerican Energy and American Electric Power Company. ETT will deliver 450 miles of new transmission lines from the CREZ, including the acquisition of rights of way from properties where the new transmission lines will pass through, and is expecting completion by 2013.

Another partnership between Cross Texas Transmission and the specialty contractor MYR Group will provide the construction management and other services required to build 235 miles of 345-kV transmission lines that will deliver the generated Texas electricity from the CREZ areas and to designated destinations within theTexas – that will benefit millions of consumers within the state.

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