Group seeks $5 billion for Texas wind energy network

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15 September 2008 — Six electric utilities and transmission companies planned to file a $4.93 billion proposal to build a roughly 2,400-mile transmission lines to ferry wind power in Texas.

The companies seek to build the 345 KV lines in the five competitive renewable energy zones established by the Public Utility Commissions of Texas this year. Regulators created the zones to implement a 2005 state law, which aims to spur transmission line constructions by identifying areas with potential for future wind farm developments.

The new transmission lines could lead to about 18.5 GW of new wind power projects in the state’s central western region and the Panhandle, according to the regulatory commission.

Studies by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which the Commission directed to identify and recommend locations for the transmission lines and estimate the amount of power that would be developed in those areas, came up with the scope of the transmission lines project and the nearly $5 billion estimated project cost.

The consortium includes Electric Transmission Texas, LCRA Transmission Services Corp., Oncor Electric Delivery, Sharyland Utilities, South Texas Electric Cooperative and Texas-New Mexico Power Co.

The companies will have to pay for building their part of the new network. Electric Transmission, for one, estimated that its share of the project would cost as much as $1.7 billion.

The consortium’s proposal will need approval from the utility commission.

The electric-power industry would have to spend $60 billion on transmission lines to enable wind energy to make up 20 percent of the country’s power supply by 2030, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

In many states, power companies have to share their transmission lines to promote competition, a mandate that offers little incentives for the companies to invest in new networks.

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