"Game-Changing" transmission link can deliver Texas wind power

Texas has installed more wind energy than any other state, but a lack of transmission and its isolated grid are holding up new projects.

Southern Cross, a transmission link proposed by San Francisco-based Pattern Energy, would connect up to 3000 MW of new Texas wind farms and provide an outlet for the state’s grid by delivering the electricity to the Southeast.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the Texas grid operator, announced that utilities and independent transmission companies in its service territory plan to spend $8.7bn over the next five years to build or improve 6693 miles of transmission lines.

Pattern plans to build a 400-mile, 500-kilovolt (kV) high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line from Garland, in east Texas, across northern Louisiana, and into northeastern Mississippi. If approved, construction on Southern Cross should begin in 2014, with the link coming online in 2016.

The project promises to make Texas an exporter of wind and would enable the Southeast, where renewable energy development has fallen behind the coasts and Midwest, to import wind energy equivalent to the output of three coal-fired power plants.

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