On June 12, 2018, the ERCOT Board of Directors endorsed a transmission project that includes two new 345-kV lines to help address future reliability concerns in the growing region of Far West Texas.
The project will include a new, 345-kV transmission line that will connect the Odessa and Riverton substations, which ERCOT designated as “critical” to the reliability of the transmission system pursuant to 16 Texas Administrative Code § 25.101(b)(3)(D). It will span approximately 101 miles across Ector, Winkler, Loving and Reeves counties.
The second new, 345-kW transmission line will be located further south in Pecos County, spanning about 68 miles and connecting the Bakersfield and Solstice substations.
These new lines are needed to support system reliability because of the “tremendous amount of load growth in West Texas” due to increased oil and gas exploration in the Permian Basin. Between 2010 and 2016, the average load growth in Far West Texas was about 8%. ERCOT noted that peak electricity demand in the area has jumped from 22 MW in 2010 to more than 200 MW in 2016. ERCOT projects peak demand to exceed 500 MW by 2021. ERCOT also noted that the increase in the number of solar generation projects being developed in this region is also a factor in the need for these transmission projects.
The new high voltage power lines will be built by Oncor, American Electric Power Service Corporation, and the Lower Colorado River Authority Transmission Services Corporation.
The estimated capital cost for these improvements is $336 million, and will be completed in the next four to five years, pending approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
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