Grid operator endorses $590M power project for Houston area

HOUSTON — The state’s electric grid operator endorsed $590 million in upgrades designed to improve electric reliability in the Houston area.

Officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said that Houston is one of the most congested spots in the state’s grid, and the upgrades are necessary to ensure performance of the system in the region.

“We have evaluated this concern from a variety of perspectives, and, under every scenario, this project is needed to support reliability in the region by summer 2018,” said Jeff Billo, ERCOT transmission planning manager, in a statement.

Grid reliability: Texas blackouts rise, ranking No. 2 in nation

The state’s Public Utility Commission still must review and approve the project, which includes a new 130-mile transmission line along with upgrades to three substations and to an existing 11-mile transmission line, among other work.

Reliability Council officials say Houston is  relying more on power from other parts of the state to support its growing electricity demand, as generating plants that serve the region retire faster than new ones come online. But the capacity to transmit power to the area from elsewhere is reaching its limit.

Already, ERCOT has struggled at times to conduct maintenance during periods of peak energy use in Houston due to those limitations.

Last year, four transmission providers submitted three proposals for review. On Tuesday, ERCOT’s board of directors endorsed a proposal submitted by CenterPoint Energy, Cross Texas Transmission and Garland Power & Light.

Also on FuelFix:

14 ways to slim your power bill this summer