The Public Utility Commission on Thursday assigned seven utilities to build pieces of a $5 billion transmission line project to bring West Texas wind power to North Texas and Houston.
The decision marks the next step in the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone project, designed to promote renewable energy investment.
Texas has more wind power than any other state, and most of it is in West Texas. Existing transmission lines have nearly reached their capacity to bring wind power to population centers.
"Oncor is pleased by the PUC's movement from discussion to action, stimulating economic development through investment and the creation of hundreds of new jobs," said Don Clevenger, vice president of external affairs for Oncor, which won the largest piece of the transmission project.
Oncor, the electric delivery arm of Energy Future Holdings, will build around $1.34 billion in transmission lines in North Texas for the project.
Another Dallas company, Sharyland Utilities, lead by Hunter Hunt, will build $394 million in transmission lines.
The commission also included newcomers in the process. Wind Energy Transmission Texas, a unit of Spain's Isolux Corsan Concesiones SA, will build $402 million in transmission lines.
Traditionally, transmission line utilities own and operate the power lines in particular regions of the state. In the past, each utility suggests and builds its own projects.
For the CREZ project, the commissioners came up with power lines themselves and allowed anyone to bid on them.
Next, the utilities must file a traditional transmission line application by October, said PUC spokesman Terry Hadley. The application would include proposals for exactly where the lines should go.
WIND POWER TRANSMISSION LINES
Here's how the major projects awarded by the Public Utility Commission for wind power transmission lines break down. The numbers are estimates, and the PUC may award other contracts.
Oncor: $1.34 billion
Electric Transmission Texas: $789 million
Lower Colorado River Authority: $750 million
Lone Star Transmission: $564 million
Wind Energy Transmission Texas: $402 million
Sharyland Utilities: $394 million
Cross Texas Transmission: $390 million
SOURCE: Public Utility Commission
Read more in the Dallas Morning News