The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) in the US has approved a $590m (€482.1m) electric transmission project that will assist in enhancing the Houston region’s import capacity from other parts of the state.

The Houston Import project has been sanctioned by the ERCOT board members and the new construction portion of the project has been deemed critical for reliability.

The project preferred by ERCOT includes: construction of a new double-circuit 345kV transmission line, covering around 130 miles; upgrades to three substations to accommodate the new connections and additional capacity; and improvements to an existing line, around 11 miles, to increase its power rating.

ERCOT transmission planning manager Jeff Billo said, "This already is one of the most congested areas in the ERCOT grid. We have evaluated this concern from a variety of perspectives, and, under every scenario, this project is needed to support reliability in the region by summer 2018."

In the past, the Houston region has mostly relied on power imports from other parts of the ERCOT grid to fulfill its raising energy demands.

"The Houston region has mostly relied on power imports from other parts of the ERCOT grid to fulfill its raising energy demands."

For the last decade, retirement of power plants has outpaced new generation in the region by around 2,000MW and transmission facilities that import power into the region are nearing their limits.

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According to ERCOT’s 2008 long-term system assessment, the need for a new import path into Houston by summer 2018 was identified.

During 2013 four transmission providers filed three proposals for review by the Regional Planning Group, which included a variety of ERCOT stakeholders.

Approval of the project is based on proposals submitted by CenterPoint Energy, Cross Texas Transmission and Garland Power & Light.

Image: ERCOT board sanctions Houston import transmission project. Photo: courtesy of Gualberto107 /