The ERCOT Board of Directors endorsed on June 14, 2017, a transmission project that includes two new 345-kV lines to help address future reliability concerns in the growing region of Far West Texas.
ERCOT Senior Manager of Transmission Planning Jeff Billo said, “We continue to see a tremendous amount of load growth in West Texas. 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. Between 2010 and 2016, the average load growth in Far West Texas was about eight percent. An increase in the number of generation projects, mostly solar, being developed in this region is also a factor.
Transmission service providers Oncor, American Electric Power Service Corporation (AEPSC) and the Lower Colorado River Authority Transmission Services Corporation will build the new high voltage power lines. Oncor and AEPSC initially proposed the project to the ERCOT Regional Planning Group in April 2016.
ERCOT’s independent analysis confirmed the project’s necessity. ERCOT analyzed more than 40 options and proposed the most cost-effective option to meet reliability needs in the area.
The project will include a new, 345-kV transmission line that will connect the Odessa and Riverton substations. It will span approximately 101 miles across Ector, Winkler, Loving and Reeves counties. In this area alone, peak electricity demand has jumped from 22 MW in 2010 to more than 200 MW in 2016. It is projected to exceed 500 MW by 2021.
The second new, 345-kW transmission line will be located further south in Pecos County, spanning about 68 miles and connecting the Bakersfield and Solstice substations.
The estimated capital cost for these improvements is $336 million. ERCOT estimates the project will be completed in the next four to five years, pending approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas. More information about the project can be viewed in an ERCOT PowerPoint presentation available here.