Power Improvements Come To Texas Plains

The signature transmission project in Xcel Energy’s Power for the Plains plan has been brought into service.
Published: Mon 06 Oct 2014

The 345kV transmission line between Xcel Energy subsidiary Southwestern Public Service Company’s (SPS) Tuco substation north of Lubbock in northwest Texas to the Oklahoma state line has been energized. The connection is to an Oklahoma line segment built by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company (OGE) from the Beckham County site to the city of Woodward.

This 320km (200 miles) line is the signature transmission project in Xcel Energy’s Power for the Plains grid improvement plan. The 10-year, US$1.6 billion plan was given the go ahead in spring 2010 to develop new transmission lines spanning portions of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The aim is to help improve reliability while strengthening the existing transmission grid and providing outlet for additional renewable wind generation.

Southwest Power Pool

The total cost for Xcel Energy’s portion of the TUCO line is approximately US$205 million, shared among the member utilities of the Southwest Power Pool, the regional transmission organization overseeing grid reliability in portions of eight south-central states, including the Texas Panhandle-South Plains region and eastern New Mexico.

In May, Xcel Energy and OG&E completed another major 345kV transmission connection between Hitchland, Texas, and Woodward.

Power for the Plains

Eleven projects in the Power for the Plains enhancement have been completed. A further 23 projects are in various stages of development, of which three are expected to come into service by the end of the year. These are:

● A 30km (19 mile) 230kV line between the Newhart and Swisher substations in Texas

● A 24km (15 mile) 115kV line between the Newhart and Hart Industrial and Lamton substations

● 68km (42 mile) of 239kV line connecting the Pleasant Hill substation with the Oasis and Roosevelt substations in New Mexico.

The other major project in Power for the Plains is a proposed 260km (159 mile) 345kV transmission line connecting the Tuco and Yoakum substations in Texas and the Hobbs Plant substation in New Mexico. The proposed in-service date is mid-2020. With upgrades to the existing Hobbs and Yoakum substations, this project will provide a significant source of bulk power capacity from the transmission hub at Tuco substation to the southwest portion of the transmission system in west Texas and eastern New Mexico.

In all, the latest plans up to 2020 approved by the Southwest Power Pool in May cover upgrades or modifications to nine existing substations and construction of 12 new substations, and construction of 240km (149 miles) of new 115kV transmission lines and 395km (245 miles) of new 345kV transmission lines.

Growing electricity demand

“Electricity demand has grown phenomenally across northwest Texas and eastern New Mexico, driving the need for more power and enhanced delivery systems,” said David Hudson, president and CEO of SPS. “These connections boost reliability and save customers money in the long run by opening this region to new power markets.”

With new connections such as the Tuco and Hitchland lines, Xcel Energy expects to take advantage of more opportunities to buy and sell power from the regional market. In the summer peak season, the company will also have access to more power to meet peak demand.

The new lines also boost the reliability of the area grid, offering more alternatives to move power into and around the area in the event of outages on other major lines. Additionally, they provide more export capacity for wind energy generated from area wind farms.

Texas is the leader in wind in the US, with 12,753MW of installed capacity and 8,300MW under construction as of June 2014. [Engerati-Wind Energy Breaks US Records]