Bearkat - Longshore 345 kV Transmission Line Project
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) studied and endorsed the Bearkat – Longshore 345 kV Transmission Line Project in October 2018. ERCOT studied nine alternatives and ultimately selected this project as the most cost-effective solution that also mitigates economic congestion and grid reliability issues in the area. To implement this project, Wind Energy Transmission Texas (WETT) and Oncor propose to construct a new, single circuit, double circuit capable, 345 kV transmission line approximately thirty miles long to be located within Howard and Glasscock Counties. The proposed project would connect the Bearkat Switching Station, located in Glasscock County approximately 7.2 miles southwest of Garden City, to the Longshore Switching Station, located in Howard County approximately 4.8 miles west of the community of Forsan. The Bearkat 345 kV station is a radially connected station, meaning that there is only one 345 kV pathway for power to flow. Should this line be disconnected, power would only flow through the underlying 138 kV system connected at Bearkat; paired with the amount of generation currently online and the expected future generation in the area, this would result in economic congestion across the system. The proposed project provides a solution to fully support present and future generation by establishing an additional pathway for the 345 kV system to connect to the Bearkat station. Completion of this project will add valuable capacity to the transmission system as a whole, while helping to ensure continued reliable electric service to the entire local region.
What is a transmission line? Why do WETT and Oncor need to build them?
Transmission lines are the high voltage conductors that move electricity from power plants to distribution systems, which deliver electricity to your homes and businesses. Ensuring adequate transmission capability is essential for electric reliability. It may help to think of them as “highways” for electricity. In the same way that highways are built to ensure that you and your family get from one place to another, transmission lines are necessary to make sure that electricity gets from where it is produced to where it is consumed.
What is the process for approval?
Step 1: Need
▪ The first step in the process is determining the need for the project. The need for the project dictates essential facilities and prescribes the type, electrical location, and capacity.
Step 2: Engineering, Routing and Environmental Assessment
▪ The second step in the process of building a new transmission line is determining potential routes for the line. WETT and Oncor, along with outside consultants, consider a variety of environmental and other important factors.
▪ Public Meetings are held as a part of the routing process. The public is encouraged to attend these meetings and learn more about the project, as well as participate. Public input, along with detailed environmental analysis by the consultant, as well as engineering and cost analysis by the utility, are important to the development of good routes.
Step 3: Review/Approval Process
▪ After the environmental assessment is complete, WETT and Oncor will file their application with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (“PUCT”) requesting a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (“CCN”). The application details specific attributes of the line, describes the need for the line, and identifies potential impacts on the surrounding community and environment.
▪ After the Company files the CCN application with the PUCT, interested parties have an opportunity to participate in the process and express their views to the PUCT. In most cases, the PUCT has up to one year to approve or deny a CCN application.
Step 4: Post-Approval
▪ After a CCN is approved by the PUCT, WETT and Oncor will begin acquiring their respective rights-of-way and constructing the new facilities. While the requisite formal review and approval process for proposed transmission facilities is an involved process that can take several years to complete, the process is one that thoroughly examines essential interests, including the views of the public, to ensure that the State’s electric system continues to be reliable and provides the necessary support for sustained development and growth.
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