Cielo Wind: Salt Fork to Gray power line to support CREZ project

The Salt Fork to Gray transmission line, for which Cross Texas Transmission (CTT) seeks a certificate of convenience and necessity, would allow Cielo Wind Services to finally bring online its nominated Panhandle B CREZ project, according to Jon Robertson, vice president of business development, Cielo Wind Services.

Robertson, in his March 6 brief filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), said that Salt Fork Wind originally attempted to develop its own privately financed and constructed interconnection line for the 200 MW Salt Fork wind power project in Donley and Gray counties in Texas, but the company could not obtain the needed consent to cross over a competing developer’s wind power leaseholds on workable terms.

“As Salt Fork [Wind] could not build its own interconnection line, it had no choice but to request that [CTT] fulfill that part of Salt Fork Wind’s transmission service request,” Robertson told TransmissionHub.

Cielo Wind Services works in a development capacity on behalf of Salt Fork Wind, which is the owner of the Salt Fork Wind Ranch project. Robertson said that Cielo Wind Services nominated two wind energy facilities, one each in the Panhandle A and Panhandle B CREZs, and provided a total of $1 million in security for those projects to secure 100 MW of total wind capacity.

According to the PUCT’s online CREZ information center, Panhandle A is the southern panhandle CREZ, which extends from the New Mexico border at Oldham County, Texas, to the southeast into Dickens County, Texas. Panhandle B is the northern panhandle CREZ, which extends from the Oklahoma border to the limits of Carson and Armstrong counties in Texas.

Robertson said that Cielo Wind Services already brought on line the Spinning Spur 2 wind power project and is scheduled to bring Spinning Spur 3 online next fall with an aggregate capacity of 355 MW in the Panhandle A CREZ. The Salt Fork to Gray transmission line would allow Cielo Wind Services and Salt Fork Wind to complete the Salt Fork Wind Ranch Panhandle B CREZ project.

Cielo Wind Services is in the final stages of development and financial securitization for the Salt Fork Wind Ranch, Robertson said. Salt Fork Wind’s affiliate, Cielo Land and Cattle, has secured from the underlying landowners the electric transmission easements necessary for the construction and operation of a 345-kV transmission line interconnecting the wind project with the ERCOT transmission system at CTT’s Gray substation, he added.

CTT’s proposed 24-mile Salt Fork to Gray transmission line project includes construction of a new single-circuit line from the Gray substation in Gray County to the proposed Salt Fork substation in Donley County. According to Robertson, other development companies have secured leases near the Salt Fork Wind Ranch and the Gray substation, and each are developing wind generation facilities on those leases.

In a March 6 brief to the PUCT, CTT said that the proposed transmission line will serve the public as an open-access line available to and capable of interconnecting with not only the Salt Fork Wind Ranch, but also other generation sources in the area.

An ERCOT economic analysis for the Salt Fork Wind Ranch determined that the production cost savings that resulted from including the Salt Fork to Gray transmission line in the model analysis, when compared with the base cases, were about $24 million and $21 million in 2017 and 2020, respectively, CTT said. CTT estimated in its Nov. 17, 2014 application to the PUCT for the transmission line that the project would cost an estimated $51 million.

The transmission line’s projected annual cost savings will eclipse its total estimated cost in less than 2.5 years, and the ratio of benefits to costs in the first year is greater than three, according to ERCOT’s study.

“[That] is a very favorable benefit ratio and demonstrates that the economics of the proposed project are positive for the market as a whole,” CTT said in its brief. “Because the proposed project will be dedicated to public service and therefore will be open access, additional cost savings will likely benefit the market if/when additional generation resources interconnect with the project.”

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