Hundreds of miles of high-voltage transmission lines are set to be placed and powered up next year as part of a $7 billion statewide project to transmit West Texas’ renewable energy to the state’s urban centers in the east.
The transmission project is part of a statewide competitive renewable energy zone initiative approved by the Texas Legislature in 2005 and aimed to eventually transmit about 18,500 megawatts of wind power from wind farms across the Panhandle and West Texas to such metro areas as Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, said Bobbie Searcy, a spokeswoman for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
The project will build about 2,400 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, including 200 miles crossing South Plains counties to create a grid expected to be completed by 2013.
“Power users will have more availability to renewable energy with this project,” said Terry Hadley, a spokesman for the Texas Public Utility Commission. “Ultimately, it means more availability and access to a wider array of fuel generation for electricity.”
The state currently has more than 10,000 megawatts of wind generation capacity, creating an opening for wind developers to provide an additional 8,500 megawatts to put the renewable energy zone grid to capacity, Hadley
“There is room now to have more wind development in West Texas and the Panhandle,” he said.
Construction of the transmission lines was bid out to private companies in 2010 and 2011, including Austin-based Wind Energy Transmission of Texas, which is expected to complete about 375 miles of line in West Texas.
A spokesman for Wind Energy Transmission of Texas did not return Avalanche-Journal phone calls requesting comment Tuesday.
There are three transmission line projects in progress in the South Plains, including the Silverton to Cottonwood line running from Briscoe County to Dickens County east of Lubbock, according to a July progress report provided by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
Construction on the Silverton to Cottonwood line is about 27 percent complete, with about 20 of its 65 miles of high-voltage line installed. The project’s estimated cost is $113 million, with an estimated completion date in December.
Other projects in the South Plains include a 74-mile Cottonwood to Dermott line from Dickens to Scurry County southeast of Lubbock, estimated at $142 million, and the 46-mile Nazareth to Silverton line from Castro County to Briscoe County. Both have no miles complete by July but were expected to be finished by December 2013.
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