The Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Board of Directors and Members Committee have approved for construction a group of “priority” high-voltage electric transmission projects estimated to bring benefits of at least $3.7 billion to the SPP region over 40 years. The projects will improve the regional electric grid by reducing congestion on the power lines, better integrating SPP’s east and west regions, improving SPP members’ ability to deliver power to customers, and facilitating the addition of new renewable and non-renewable generation to the electric grid. SPP will issue notices to construct these projects pending successful implementation of its proposed Highway/Byway cost sharing proposal.

Projects include:

  • The double-circuit 345-kV line from Spearville, Kansas; to Comanche County, Kansas; to Medicine Lodge, Kansas; to Wichita, Kansas is projected to cost $356 million
  • The double-circuit 345-kV line from Comanche County, Kansas, to Woodward, Oklahoma is projected to cost $108 million
  • The double-circuit 345-kV line from Woodward, Oklahoma to Hitchland, Texas is projected to cost $247 million
  • The 345-kV line from Nebraska City, Nebraska; to Maryville, Missouri; to Sibley, Missouri is projected to cost $301 million
  • The 345-kV line from Valliant, Oklahoma to Texarkana, Texas is projected to cost $131 million
  • New equipment in Tulsa County, Oklahoma is projected to cost $840,000

“Traditionally, we have built transmission infrastructure in a reactive way – incrementally ‘patching’ the electric grid by building just enough least-cost transmission to keep the lights on,” said SPP President and CEO Nick Brown. “Our members are now shifting to a new vision of enabling transmission. We want to proactively build a robust ‘transmission superhighway’ that will benefit customers not just of one utility, but across the entire region. We need an electric grid that will meet near- and long-term needs, and allow us to better manage many uncertain future scenarios such as carbon policy, varying fuel prices, growth in electricity demand, and state or federal renewable energy standards.”

The total cost to engineer and construct these projects is estimated to be $1.14 billion.

“There are specific times and places in the SPP region where lower-cost energy can’t be delivered to customers because there’s not enough transmission. These new electricity ‘highways’ will allow us to move more power more efficiently,” said SPP Senior Vice President of Engineering and Regulatory Policy Les Dillahunty. “Thousands of temporary and permanent jobs will be created to build and operate the Priority Projects. We also expect new wind farms will be built once transmission is available to pull more wind energy from the Plains to the electric grid, providing additional jobs.”