LCRA Transmission Services Corp. received a signed written order March 30 from the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for transmission projects that are part of the commission’s Competitive Renewable Energy Zones project.
LCRA TSC is one of more than a dozen transmission service providers that received a signed written order, which starts the implementation phase of more than 2,000 miles of new transmission lines that will be built and several hundred miles of existing transmission lines upgraded to transport renewable power from wind-generator farms into more populated parts of the state. The initiative is a result of action by the PUC in its Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) project.
The new transmission lines and associated facilities will be built in West Texas, the Panhandle, the Texas Hill Country, and around Dallas and Fort Worth. Counties where LCRA TSC’s CREZ-related transmission projects likely will be constructed include Schleicher, Irion, Tom Green, Sutton, Kimble, Kerr, Kendall, Gillespie, Menard, Llano, Burnet, Lampasas, Ector, Crane, Upton, Pecos, Mason, and San Saba.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) identified the CREZ-related transmission facilities. ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to 21 million Texas customers, representing 85 percent of the state’s electric load and 75 percent of the Texas land area. In early 2008, ERCOT estimated the construction cost for the entire set of CREZ-related transmission projects to be $4.9 billion.
As ordered by the Public Utility Commission, LCRA TSC will build, own, and operate about 600 miles of new and existing CREZ-related transmission lines and facilities that will cost nearly $700 million, based on 2008 ERCOT estimates. LCRA TSC’s CREZ-related transmission projects are scheduled to be completed and energized before the PUC’s deadline for all CREZ-related projects, which is the end of 2013.
Texas Senate Bill 20 states requirements for the accommodation of renewable energy in Texas by 2015. Through a PUC-led process, the PUC designated various areas in West Texas and the Panhandle as “CREZ” areas where wind generation is to be sited. Through this same process, the PUC also identified and ordered the construction of transmission system improvements necessary to deliver this wind generation to consumers in more populated regions.
CREZ projects will significantly increase Texas’ current electric transmission capacity for wind generation to 18,456 megawatts. Texas leads the nation in wind energy production, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Among the benefits of the CREZ projects, is the transmission of renewable energy (mostly wind) from remote areas to load centers throughout the state in the most cost-effective manner. Several of the CREZ-related projects assigned to LCRA TSC will further increase reliability in the area as the need for energy continues to grow in Texas.
LCRA TSC will seek amendments to its Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN), which is required before construction of new transmission lines can begin. Deadline for CCN submittal to the PUC is early October 2009 for the projects deemed “priority” by the PUC. LCRA TSC’s CCN amendment requests will include a preferred route as well as alternative routes for the new lines. The PUC will select which route will be constructed.
This spring, LCRA TSC will begin hosting a series of open houses in the areas where the new lines are expected to be built. Staff will seek public input on possible alternative line routes and will provide more information about the CREZ projects.
The PUC awarded four key 345-kilovolt (kV) projects to LCRA TSC. Their names reflect the start and end points of the project. They are called the Twin Buttes-to-McCamey D; McCamey D-to-Kendall; Kendall-to-Gillespie; and Gillespie-to-Newton transmission line projects. The PUC considers these “priority” projects that will be handled first, followed by “non-priority” projects. Also, LCRA TSC may propose a Westwind Substation as an alternative for the Kendall Substation.
The 345-kV lines will be built on double-circuit-capable lattice structures. For line routing study area maps and more information on CREZ-related projects, see www.lcra.org/crez. For the purpose of filing certificate amendments for the four CREZ priority projects, LCRA TSC combined them into two projects described as follows.
Twin Buttes-to-McCamey D-to-Westwind-to-Kendall project
In this project, LCRA TSC will construct three new, double-circuit, bundled-conductor, 345-kV transmission lines.
The first transmission line will connect the existing Twin Buttes Substation in northwestern Tom Green County to the proposed McCamey D Substation, to be located in northern Schleicher County. This line may be located in portions of Tom Green, Irion, and Schleicher counties. Initially, LCRA TSC will install one circuit on this transmission line with provision for a second circuit to be installed in the future
The second transmission line will connect the proposed McCamey D Substation to the proposed Westwind Substation, to be located in northern Kerr or southern Gillespie counties. This line may be located in portions of Schleicher, Menard, Sutton, Kimble, Kerr, and Gillespie counties.
The third transmission line will connect the Westwind Substation to the existing Kendall Substation in western Kendall County. It may be located in parts of Gillespie, Kerr, and Kendall counties.
Initially, both circuits will be installed on the second and third transmission lines.
LCRA TSC will construct two new double-circuit, bundled-conductor, 345-kV transmission lines in this project.
The first transmission line will connect either the proposed Westwind Substation in northern Kerr or southern Gillespie counties or the existing Kendall Substation in western Kendall County to the expanded Gillespie Substation in central Gillespie County. It may be located in portions of Kerr, Gillespie, and Kendall counties.
The second line will connect the expanded Gillespie Substation to the proposed Oncor Newton Substation in southeastern Lampasas County. It may be located in portions of Gillespie, San Saba, Llano, Burnet, and Lampasas counties.
LCRA TSC initially will install one circuit on both transmission lines with a provision for a second circuit to be installed on both in the future.
CREZ non-priority projects
McCamey C-to-North McCamey project
The McCamey C-to-North McCamey project consists of adding a new 345-kV single-circuit transmission line on double-circuit-capable structures along about a 15- to 20-mile section between the new McCamey C collection station and the existing LCRA TSC North McCamey Substation. LCRA TSC plans to amend its CCN to certify both circuits with the first circuit to be installed initially and the second circuit to be added when needed in the future.
North McCamey-to-Odessa project
The North McCamey-to-Odessa new 345-kV transmission line will be located in Upton, Pecos, Ector, Crane, and Midland counties. The project will add a new 345-kV single-circuit line on double-circuit-capable structures along about a 55- to 60-mile section between the existing LCRA TSC North McCamey Substation and the existing Odessa Substation.
This 138-kV line will be about 28 miles long and located in Llano and Mason counties. It involves the upgrade and voltage conversion to 138 kV of the existing 69-kV transmission line that runs from the existing LCRA TSC Pitsburg Substation in Llano County to the existing Fort Mason Substation in Mason County.
The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) is a nonprofit conservation and reclamation district that provides energy, water, and community services to Texans. Created by the Texas Legislature in 1934, LCRA has no taxing authority and operates solely on utility revenues and service fees. LCRA supplies electricity to more than 1.1 million Texans through more than 40 wholesale customers. LCRA also provides many other services to the region. These services include managing floods, protecting the quality of the lower Colorado River and its tributaries, providing parks and recreational facilities, offering economic development assistance, operating water and wastewater utilities, and providing soil, energy, and water conservation programs.
About LCRA Transmission Services Corporation
LCRA TSC is a nonprofit corporation created by LCRA to build, own, and operate transmission lines and related facilities throughout Texas. LCRA TSC owns and leases about 4,400 miles of transmission lines and other facilities that are part of the state’s electric grid. LCRA TSC pays local and state taxes.