T&D World Magazine

Electric Transmission Texas Files Request to Build 345-kV Transmission Line from Laredo to Rio Grande Valley

Electric Transmission Texas, LLC (ETT) has filed a request for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) to build a 345-kV transmission line from the Laredo area into the Lower Rio Grande Valley. ETT envisions completion of the project in 2016.

ETT’s routing options for the project range from approximately 138 mi to 188 mi in length, connecting an existing ETT substation near Laredo with an existing substation north of Edinburg. The estimated cost of the routing options range from approximately $265 million to $365 million. Costs associated with expanding the existing substations and adding two new substations along the line are expected to total approximately $75 million.

The new transmission line from Laredo to the Edinburg area will cross portions of Webb, Zapata, Jim Hogg, Brooks, Starr and Hidalgo counties. ETT plans to construct the transmission line on steel single-pole structures, an approach overwhelmingly supported by landowners attending open houses held earlier this year.

In October 2011, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) board determined that the project is critical for the reliability of the ERCOT system and, specifically, the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

“The need for transmission improvements was reinforced during February of 2011,” said ETT President Calvin Crowder. “Due to unusually cold weather and a significant lack of generation on the morning of Feb. 2, ERCOT called for a firm load shed across the grid, resulting in rolling outages throughout much of the state. After the resumption of normal activities, the Valley continued to face the possibility of outages due to severe weather. On the evening of Feb. 3, AEP Texas dropped 300 MW of load in the Valley as a result of the loss of a generator and transmission import limitations. ETT filed a request for ERCOT’s support within 30 days following the storm and received the agency’s endorsement that October.”

Since that time, ETT has worked with landowners to resolve as many issues as possible prior to filing the CCN request at the PUCT. ETT included 32 possible routes for consideration by the PUCT in the CCN application as a result of those efforts, which necessitated contacting over 4,200 landowners.

ETT is a joint venture between subsidiaries of American Electric Power (AEP) and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company (MidAmerican), two of the largest utilities in the United States. The joint venture acquires, constructs, owns and operates transmission facilities within ERCOT, primarily in and around the AEP Texas Central Company and AEP Texas North Company service territories.

AEP, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP has extensive experience building extra-high-voltage 765-kV transmission lines and owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mi network that includes 2,100 mi of 765-kV transmission lines, more than all other U.S. transmission systems combined.

MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, based in Des Moines, Iowa, is a global provider of energy services to more than 6.9 million customers worldwide. MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. subsidiaries PacifiCorp and MidAmerican energy Co. own and operate more than 18,000 mi of electric transmission lines.

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