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Senator asks electricity regulators to trim wind power line project

A key state senator asked the Public Utility Commission to trim a $6.9 billion project to build transmission lines to accommodate more West Texas wind power as the cost of renewable energy shifts.

Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, said he sent a message to the executive director of the commission earlier this week asking the PUC to reevaluate the project, originally estimated to cost $5 billion.

“There are actually two problems here. One is, the cost associated with it is going to be passed along to customers,” Fraser said, and: “The economics have changed on renewable energy.”

Fraser, chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, said he would like commissioners to consider dropping plans for a line to the Panhandle. That line is under construction by Sharyland, a unit of Dallas energy company Hunt Consolidated Inc.

Hunt spokeswoman Jeanne Phillips said the company has already begun construction.

“We believe the CREZ project is one of the best economic engines currently working in Texas,” she said in a statement, adding the “project provides desperately-needed jobs in the Panhandle, along with increased tax revenues for the region and the state.”

Read more in Friday’s newspaper.