January 16 2012
Nearly $8.7 billion in transmission projects planned in next five years
More than $870 million in transmission improvements completed last year
Jan. 16, 2012, AUSTIN – Nearly $8.7 billion in transmission improvements are planned in the next five years, according to the annual transmission report from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, (ERCOT), the state grid operator and manager of the wholesale electric market.
The planned projects are expected to improve or add nearly 7,000 circuit miles of transmission lines and more than 17,000 megavolt amperes (MVA) of autotransformer capacity to the grid, including the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) transmission additions that are scheduled to be in service by 2013.
The 2011 Electric System Constraints and Needs Report, filed Friday with the Public Utility Commission, identifies existing and potential constraints in the transmission systems that pose reliability concerns or may increase costs to the electric power market and Texas consumers.
Since 2010, ERCOT transmission providers have completed construction and improvements to approximately 966 miles of transmission and more than 5,000 MVA of autotransformer capacity, at an estimated capital cost of $870 million. The largest project completed last year was a 173-circuit-mile 345 kilovolt (kV) line in South Central Texas, the Zorn/Clear Springs – Gilleland Creek – Hutto Switch.
TRANSMISSION PLANNING PROCESS
As the transmission planning coordinator for the region, ERCOT works with the region’s transmission and distribution providers and other stakeholders to identify the need for new transmission facilities based on engineering analysis of operational results, load forecasting, generation interconnections, and transmission and system studies. As part of the planning process, ERCOT seeks input from all market participants and stakeholders about options and possible solutions through the ERCOT-led Regional Planning Group. Major projects must be also endorsed by the ERCOT Board of Directors.
In the ERCOT region, the cost for transmission construction and upgrades is rolled into costs that all ratepayers pay – also known as a “postage-stamp transmission rate” because it is the same access fee regardless of location. Transmission and distribution providers must offer access to their wires to all electric providers on a non-discriminatory basis. The Public Utility Commission regulates transmission and distribution providers and approves the rates they are allowed to charge for the delivery of power to retail customers.
ERCOT TRANSMISSION SNAPSHOT
- 40,530 miles of high-voltage transmission, including:
- 9,249 miles of 345 kV
- 19,565 miles of 138 kV
- 11,715 miles of 69 kV
- $8.7 billion under development in five-year plan, including approximately $5 billion to support 18,000 MW of renewable generation
- More than 8,500 circuit miles of transmission improvements since 1999
- Approximately $6.6 billion in transmission improvements added since 1999