ERCOT supports energy plan for the Texas Valley
By Anayancy Ulloa
August 29, 2022
The McAllen Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and American Electric Power (AEP) held a meeting with Kip Fox, president of Electric Transmission Texas (ETT), in order to publicize the network expansion and improvement project transmission line serving the Rio Grande Valley.
AEP and South Texas Electric Cooperative are transmission service providers for this estimated $1.28 billion project. The cost would be shared by the 26 million customers of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
During the meeting, held on August 10, the economic development corporations of McAllen, Edinburg, Mission and Pharr, in Texas, were summoned, to whom this initiative was reported in order to work directly with them on any project they have.
In an interview, Susie Flores, director of new business recruitment for the US at MEDC, commented that what is planned is to implement the necessary infrastructure that allows the placement of new towers, antennas and wiring to connect high-voltage poles. This plan will make electric transmission service much more reliable.
“MEDC is currently working with a company that will install a solar farm and an additional green hydrogen project, but they are looking for properties where they could install them,” she explained.
One of the conditions for choosing the property is that it must be close to these high voltage connections to put your solar farm. Flores mentioned that this is a project that is contemplated to start up in a period of two to five years.
"At the moment, if there is a project in any of the economic development corporations in the region, they will be able to support the installation of the wiring," she assured.
She added that there are lines that only support a certain amount of voltage and with the new lines that will be installed, the capacity to receive and send energy to the solar farms will be expanded.
The Tier 1 plan for the Lower Rio Grande Valley system improvement project, submitted to ERCOT by American Electric Power (AEP), calls for the construction of three new substations and the installation of approximately 352 miles of dual-circuit transmission lines. 345 kilovolts (kV) connecting them.
The Lower Rio Grande Valley relies heavily on three main 345 kV long-distance transmission lines that connect the region to the rest of the state's grid, although two of the lines, which run parallel to the coast from near Corpus Christi to the Valley, are susceptible to damage from tropical storms and hurricanes, according to ERCOT.
Existing conventional generation capacity is limited and no additional conventional generation is planned, ERCOT noted in its report on the project.
Conventional generation refers to power plants fueled by natural gas or coal, for example, as opposed to renewable energy such as wind or solar generation.
"Historically, the LRGV area has experienced reliability challenges, especially during transmission and generation outages, including those associated with extreme weather events, to serve existing and projected electricity demand growth," ERCOT said.
Electricity demand at the LRGV "load center" is expected to increase, while the potential for high-use industrial customers to move into the area is another reason transmission service needs to be improved, according to the report, which noted that peak summer demand is expected to reach 3,200 and 3,300 megawatts (MW) by 2027 and 2030, respectively.
One MW, which is equal to one million watts, is roughly the amount of energy needed to power 400 to 900 homes per year.
According to ERCOT, reliability issues will arise even without outages of 3,200 MW or more, meaning system upgrades will need to be in place by 2027. It is important to consider high-impact weather-related transmission or generation outages and stability and reliability issues.
According to ERCOT, the large volume of renewable resources (wind and solar farms) that have been built in and around the Lower Valley in recent years limits the ability to import and export energy, affecting long-term energy transfer. distance between the Lower Valley and the rest of the ERCOT network. Wind and solar generation capacity in the Lower Valley was expected to reach approximately seven gigawatts by the end of 2021. One gigawatt equals 1 billion watts.
In addition to enhancing reliability and stability and optimizing system resiliency under high-impact weather conditions and increasing the ability to move power in and out of the area, the enhancements "will provide greater operational flexibility during planned maintenance outage conditions." ", according to ERCOT.
McAllen Economic Development Corporation
6401 S. 33rd Street McAllen, Texas 78503
(956) 682 - 2875