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The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), grid operator for most of the state, is reviewing proposed transmission projects for the next five years totaling $3 billion that are expected to improve or add 2,888 circuit miles of transmission and more than 17,000 megavolt ampere of autotransformer capacity to the grid, according to the annual electric system constraints and needs report, filed with the Public Utility Commission.

The report also analyzes costs to resolve zonal congestion between the four congestion zones and the local intra-zonal congestion. Although zonal congestion costs had been trending downward over the past few years - from $146 million in 2001 to $52 million in 2007 - costs in 2008 increased to $360 million, primarily due to a combination of events, including high fuel costs, revised shadow price caps and increased wind generation.

Along with the five-year transmission report, ERCOT also filed the Long-Term System Assessment, which looks at transmission and generation options for the next 10 years. Major conclusions in this report include the following:

- Although an import pathway into Houston from the West, such as from the Fayette substation to the Zenith substation, was generally cost-effective across a range of scenarios included in this study, the specific pathway should be reviewed and selected as part of the ERCOT five-year planning process;

- Load growth in two areas (north of Dallas in Cooke and Grayson counties and in western Williamson County) may result in the need for long-lead time transmission projects in the next 10 years; and

- Economic benefits from most transmission projects were dependent on the location of new sources of generation, fuel costs and emissions allowance costs.

SOURCE: Electric Reliability Council of Texas

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