AMARILLO — A $1.6 billion transmission system designed to bring Panhandle wind energy to power-hungry Central Texas may not be large enough to export all the electricity generated by the turbines.
The Energy Reliability Council of Texas is now looking at options for transmitting more wind energy as it reviews several projects in the pipelines, the Amarillo Globe-News reported.
The problem has arisen because while the large transmission system is nearly complete, it does not have the capacity to handle the full amount of energy that could be generated in the coming years — electricity that is greatly needed as Texas’ population booms, especially in the northern and central areas of the state.
ERCOT is reviewing new wind farms that would be capable of producing more than 11,000 megawatts of electricity, for which about 3,500 megawatts is meant to provide energy to Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio. But the nearly completed transmission system can only handle about 2,500 megawatts.
“We expect we’ll have sufficient capacity through about 2015,” ERCOT spokeswoman Robbie Searcy told the newspaper.
Power providers and oversight agencies are studying where additional transmission facilities and lines could be built, considering systems that would be able to handle between 5,000 megawatts and 7,500 megawatts of additional electricity.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas website stated the process across West Texas started in 2008 with an estimated 2,900 miles of transmission line at a cost of $4.93 billion.
The commission now estimates a need for 3,595 miles of transmission line costing nearly $7 billion.
The move to generate and transmit wind energy from West Texas to other parts of the vast state comes as coal-generated power facilities, the traditional major supplier of electricity, have come under fire from new federal environmental regulations and cheap natural gas.