Corsicana – Getting power from West Texas wind farms has been the goal for years, and now the route for one of the major transmission lines has been approved by the Texas Public Utilities Commission.
The 311 miles of high-voltage electrical lines will start near Snyder in Scurry County, and come across the north-central portion of the state to end in Navarro County, where it will tie into transmission lines that run north and south between the state’s major metropolitan centers.
The cost of the project will be $767.8 million, according to Lone Star Transmission, the company building the line.
One of the three 345-kilovolt substations will be built in Navarro County, near the intersection of FM 709 and FM 2452, a few miles south of the Corsicana city limits. The other two will be in Hill and Shackelford counties.
“The substation work is going to start very soon,” said David Turner, project manager for Lone Star. “We’re doing three substations and two series compensation stations. Those stations are scattered over our project area, which is 300 miles long.”
The Navarro substation connects the wind-farm energy system to traditional systems. Specifically, it will tie into the Big Brown – Watermill and Limestone – Venus transmission lines, according to the Public Utility Commission.
The design and survey work on the Navarro substation will start in coming weeks, with actual construction set to begin in late winter or early spring, Turner said.
The transmission lines will cross the following counties: Scurry, Fisher, Jones, Mitchell, Taylor, Callahan, Shackelford, Stephens, Eastland, Palo Pinto, Erath, Comanche, Somervell, Johnson, Bosque, Hill, and Navarro, according to Lone Star.
“Work on the lines starts this summer, July and August,” Turner said. In the meantime, representatives with the company will be looking to sign contracts for rights of way needed to string the lines.
“We’re negotiating with landowners to acquire easement,” he said. “Those landowners crossed by the approved route will be contacted very soon by Lone Star to acquire easements. As the easements are acquired, construction will be approved this summer.”
After some dispute with landowners in Hill County, which went to a State Administrative Law Judge, the route was approved by the PUC in November. The state agency denied a deadline extension for the West Texas end of the line when the group met in regular session in December.
Lone Star intends to use metal and concrete monopoles, between 100 and 120 feet high, for most of the line instead of the typical steel lattice-style towers that are usually as high as 180 feet.
“Benefits of constructing the project with monopoles include less visual impact and less ROW required when compared to lattice tower structures,” the company stated on its Web site.
While the timetable for the project is still uncertain, the deadline remains firm.
“Our projected finish is March 2013,” Turner said.
In all, the state has authorized the construction of nearly $5 billion worth of transmission lines to bring clean, renewable wind energy to the more populated portions of Texas, according to Dottie Roark of the Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). The cost of building the lines will be paid for by the transmission companies, like Lone Star, with the promise that they can recover their money through a blanket fee for all Texas electricity customers. The estimated cost to an average home will be $4 a month, according to the PUC.