The $1.6 billion transmission system to take export Texas Panhandle wind power downstate is almost finished, but the Energy Reliability Council of Texas already is looking at options in case all the announced wind farms are built without enough transmission lines to move their power.
The wind farms that have requested ERCOT review have production capacities totaling more than 11,000 megawatts.
Of those, farms capable of producing 3,500 megawatts have signed agreements with utilities to provide energy to them in places like Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio, but the new system was designed to handle only about 2,500 megawatts.
“Of that 3,500 megawatts, about 1,000 have financial commitments,” said ERCOT spokeswoman Robbie Searcy.
“We expect we’ll have sufficient capacity through about 2015.”
Production capacity is what the wind farm could produce under optimal conditions all day and night.
More than 230 miles of transmission line built by Cross Texas Transmission to serve the eastern Texas Panhandle is complete, said Cameron Fredkin, director of project development at Cross Texas.
Sharyland Utilities is almost finished with its 300 miles of lines in the western and south-central Texas Panhandle.
“Sharyland’s portion of the CREZ process is almost complete,” spokeswoman Jeanne Phillips said.
“To date, we have energized all four of our collection stations, and four of our five transmission lines with the fifth line scheduled to be energized by mid-November.”
“All of the lines have been designed to carry two circuits, however, three of the five are constructed as single circuits as recommended by ERCOT. The second circuit can be added as necessary to meet additional capacity.
All the lines in the region should be operational by the end of the year with wind farms completing construction in 2014 and 2015, according to ERCOT records.
Carson and Gray counties should see the first robust growth followed by Castro, Briscoe and Swisher counties.
Fredkin gave a presentation on the preliminary report Wednesday in Borger to industry representatives.
“The presentation shows some possible incremental facilities that could be added to increase the export capacity of the Panhandle,” he said.
The ongoing study is looking at the possibility of 5,000 or 7,500 additional megawatts over what the new lines can handle.
According to the Public Utility Commission of Texas website, the CREZ process across all of West Texas started with an estimate of 2,900 miles of transmission line and a cost of $4.93 billion in 2008.
Today’s estimate is 3,595 miles and a cost of $6.82 billion.
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