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Texas Renewable Energy Transmission Project Delayed by Bad Weather

Inclement weather is being blamed for preventing a perfect record for Texas’s competitive renewable energy zone (CREZ) transmission initiative by delaying a single transmission project in the central CREZ zone beyond the end-of-2013 target date for the projects’ completion.

The sole exception is the final project being built by Wind Energy Transmission Texas’s (WETT).

“There are a few remaining items to complete on Segment 7 (Sand Bluff to Bearkat) including utility coordination for final connections,” Wayne Morton, WETT general manager, told TransmissionHub Dec. 31Construction of the 29-mile line began Nov. 26, 2012, and is expected to be completed “within the next two weeks.” 

Meanwhile, WETT has completed construction and commissioning of the 37-mile Sand Bluff to Divide line. Both lines had been slated for completion earlier in the year but were delayed by foul weather, Morton said.

WETT, the third-largest CREZ developer by budget, was initially responsible for seven transmission lines and eight associated station and equipment projects. One equipment project, the Cottonwood capacitor bank project, was cancelled.

South Texas Electric Cooperative (STEC) completed its final project, the 76-mile Odessa to Bakersfield line, and turned control of the project over to the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) for operation “well before Dec. 31,” Holly Gifford, STEC transmission project coordinator, told TransmissionHub Jan. 2.

STEC was initially responsible for three transmission lines, though the three projects were combined to form the Odessa to Bakersfield line and the 112-mile Bakersfield to Big Hill line, which was energized Aug. 31.

Oncor Electric Delivery Company energized the 70-mile West Krum to Anna line Dec. 30, an Oncor spokesperson told TransmissionHub Jan. 2. Oncor energized its penultimate project, the 110-mile Clear Crossing to Willow Creek line, on Dec. 18.

Construction began on the West Krum to Anna project on Aug. 10, 2012, and on the Clear Crossing to Willow Creek project on Jan. 21, 2012. Oncor was responsible for developing 27 transmission lines, the largest number of any CREZ developer, and had the largest current budget estimate of $1.9bn for the lines and 37 station and equipment projects.

Approved in 2008, the CREZ initiative saw 10 developers take part in what was designed as a transmission build-out to transport renewable energy from the wind-rich areas of the Texas Panhandle and West Texas to the load centers of Dallas-Ft. Worth, Austin, San Antonio, and beyond. The completed CREZ projects will eventually transmit 18,500 MW of wind energy.

The current estimated cost of the CREZ program, as reflected in the quarterly progress report issued by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) Oct. 7, is $6.81bn, which represents an increase from the first revised figure of $6.56bn contained in the April 2011 report, but below the high of $6.95bn contained in the January 2012 report and a decline from the $6.82bn estimated in the July quarterly progress report.

There are several reasons for the variations, according to the report. The original estimate of $4.9bn, which resulted from the CREZ transmission optimization (CTO) study in 2008, was the outcome of “a planning exercise to develop multiple transmission plan scenarios from which to select the most cost effective and optimal scenario for execution,” according to the report. After the CTO was developed, an additional 70 projects were added, including three transmission lines comprising more than 600 miles of new transmission, and 67 associated facilities.

This article was originally published on TransmissionHub and was republished with permission.

Lead image: Transmission lines via Shutterstock

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