Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who will oversee the implementation of these Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (“CREZ”)?
A: The Public Utility Commission of Texas (“PUCT”) will award contracts to several transmission service providers (“TSPs”) that will have the authority to build and operate these transmission lines; however the PUCT will still be responsible for the oversight of CREZ.
Q: What are the Benefits of the CREZ program to Texans?
A: Texas has been blessed with both geology and geography. Famous for oil, Texas is now the leader in wind generated electricity. Not all areas of the Unites States have the characteristics for great wind energy production, but a good portion of Texas meets all of these requirements and more—demand. As the population of Texas grows and the quality of life increases for more Texans, more electricity is needed. Texas is once again taking full advantage of its bounties, and the benefits do not end there. The installation phase of CREZ will provide jobs in manufacturing, construction, professional services and general business. The completion of the CREZ transmission expansion will reduce strain on the presently congested Texas transmission system. This will result in greater efficiency, reduced outages and more availability, all while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and protecting the environment.
Q: Why do the United States and Texas need wind energy?
A: Renewable energy is an important part of the overall energy portfolio for several reasons. First, it does not depend on new supplies of the raw materials commonly used to generate electricity. According to the US Energy Information Administration, almost 90% of the power generated in 2008 came from coal, natural gas, or nuclear power generation facilities. Coal plants make up almost half of the US power generation mix, and they have by far the most serious impact on the quality of the air we breathe. Regardless, coal, gas, and nuclear as well as most of the other generation plants depend on finding new supplies of fuel. Renewable energy does not. Wind, solar, and other “renewables” are just what they say, renewable. Additionally, the air quality of Texas and the US in general depends in part on finding new, cleaner sources of electricity to protect our quality of life and that of the future generations of Texans.
Q: Where will the new transmission lines be located?
A: Approximately 2,400 miles of electric transmission lines have been ordered by the PUCT as part of CREZ. WETT will construct approximately 286 miles of these CREZ transmission lines. The locations (routing and siting) of the WETT transmission lines and associated substations are currently under study as part of the PUCT Certificate of Convenience and Necessity regulatory process. The Study Area includes the Texas counties of Andrews, Borden, Coke, Crosby, Dawson, Dickens, Ector, Fisher, Floyd, Garza, Glasscock, Howard, Kent, Martin, Midland, Mitchell, Motley, Reagan, Scurry, Sterling, Tom Green, and Upton. The final locations where the WETT transmission lines will be built will be determined by the PUCT.
Q: What is the need for the CREZ transmission lines?
A: Texas is continuing to grow at a substantial rate and the demand for reliable electricity is growing at almost that same rate. Increasing energy demands of homes and businesses in Texas place an incredible strain on existing transmission lines and substations. Additionally, the wind energy that is coming on line is located in West Texas and that power needs to be moved to major population centers in other parts of the State. These new or expanded transmission facilities have been ordered by the PUCT to move that power to market and to reduce overall system congestion.
Q: Where will WETT be purchasing property in Texas?
A: In addition to easements purchased for transmission lines, WETT has acquired real estate for five substations. These substations are the Panhandle AD Collector Station in Dickens County north of the town of McAdoo, West C Collector Station in Martin County northwest of the town of Stanton, the West A Station in Borden County, the Central D Collector Station in Sterling County west of Sterling City, and the Central E Collector Station in Glasscock County.
Q: Will Wind Energy Transmission Texas protect the private property rights of land owners?
A: Yes. We believe in building partnerships with landowners, communities and local organizations. Our goal is to become a part of the community, create jobs, and work toward expeditious completion of CREZ projects.
Q: How did WETT choose a route for the transmission lines?
A: The PUCT has ordered WETT to build approximately 286 miles of new transmission lines based on a needs evaluation by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). The ERCOT lines were not precisely located and the final locations were determined by “routing studies” conducted by WETT and its contractors. That study looked at a 20 mile wide “study area” and selected a preferred route and several alternatives.
Residents, public officials, government agencies and other concerned parties were contacted and WETT held “Open Houses” to inform the public of their plans and gather important input for the routing decisions. As information became available, it was placed in public locations for inspection. Also, the WETT website is an important means of communication for each part of the planning and information gathering process. Affected landowners were contacted directly and invited to attend informational sessions regarding the WETT transmission lines and facilities.
WETT relied upon information from the residents, landowners, and all concerned parties to make informed decisions when evaluating possible routes. WETT worked closely with the communities to address concerns. Feedback from the public is essential to making the WETT project a success at all levels.
Finally, alternative route, in addition to WETT’s preferred route, with all supporting documentation were submitted to the PUCT as part of the application for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN). Ultimately the PUCT, after requesting any additional information, chose the final route of the transmission line and related facilities and released a final order to that effect.
Q: What will the transmission line structures look like?
A: WETT will use steel lattice towers as the typical transmission structures for this project. With 345-kV electricity, conductor wires are placed approximately 120 feet to 180 feet above the ground. On average there are usually five structures per mile dependent upon terrain and other factors. The PUCT’s final order influenced the structure type and frequency.
Q: Why can’t the transmission lines be placed underground?
A: The transmission lines that WETT will construct are 345-kV lines. The proposed lines are larger than lines providing residential electric service. While it is possible, 345-kV lines rarely are placed below ground for a variety of reasons including safety, reliability, ease of maintenance and cost.
Q: What is EMF?
A: Electric magnetic fields (EMF) are a result of the use or transmission of electricity. In the home, for example, hair dryers, televisions, and computers all have varying amounts of EMF. Numerous research studies have been conducted investigating the possible effects of EMF on human health and no direct connections have been found. WETT, as all electric providers, closely follows research on the topic to ensure up-to-date information in the field.
Q: How will my electric rates be affected by the construction of these transmission lines?
A: Transmission rates are regulated by the PUCT. TSPs like WETT all must file a petition with the PUCT called a “rate case” justifying that they have been prudent with their development and requesting fees or rates from the residents throughout the state as part of the cost of electricity.