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More lines sought for wind generators

One problem with wind power generation is that the wind blows in West Texas, but people need the electricity on the other side of the state.

American Electric Power and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. want to build more transmission lines to bring wind power across the state, and to support the power grid.

The companies said Tuesday they will form a joint venture called Electric Transmission Texas LLC and will invest $1 billion in more transmission equipment.

“There is a critical need to expand the Texas electric transmission grid to meet growing energy demand, reduce congestion and support development of competitive renewable energy zones being established in Texas,” Calvin Crowder, executive director of the joint venture, said in a statement.

The company said it filed with the Pubic Utility Commission for permission to operate big, interstate transmission lines. That doesn’t include the small lines that go to individual homes or businesses.

The joint venture will start with installations in AEP’s distribution service territory, which includes South Texas and parts of West Texas, from Abilene to Marfa, and bits of the Panhandle.

AEP spokeswoman Melissa McHenry said the company eventually plans to install transmission lines in other parts of Texas.

She said the investment could include technology to reduce the amount of electricity lost when it is transmitted over power lines.

AEP plans to contribute some transmission assets that are under construction to the joint venture. Those assets are valued at $76 million, and include a variable frequency transformer that allows power to flow between the U.S. and Mexican transmission grids.

The company said it is requesting an 11.25 percent return on equity in its initial rate filing. The company would ask for permission to charge electricity providers for the new equipment, and those providers would probably pass along the charge to consumers.

By Elizabeth Souder
The Dallas Morning News