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Oncor seeks approval for 345-kV lines to meet growing demand in West Texas

Oncor Electric Delivery Co. LLC has asked Texas regulators to approve permits for transmission lines in an area of West Texas where demand for electricity is growing due to increased oil and gas production.

Oncor on March 16 applied to the Public Utility Commission of Texas for a certificate of convenience and necessity for its Odessa EHV-Riverton and Riverton-Moss project. It consists of two 345-kV lines. One will run from Oncor's Riverton Switching Station now under construction in Reeves County to the existing Odessa EHV Switching Station in the city of Odessa in Ector County. The other line will run from Riverton to the existing Moss Switching Station, also in Ector County.

Depending on the specific route selected, the project will run roughly 110 to 133 miles. Cost estimates range between $217 million and $227 million.

"Oncor continues to experience load growth in West Texas due to oil and natural gas production, midstream processing and associated economic expansion in the area referred to as the Delaware Basin," the company, which is majority-owned by Sempra Energy, said in its application. Two nearby substations recorded a peak load of 300.6 MW in 2017, but by 2022, peak load is projected to more than triple to more than 1,000 MW.

In 2016, Oncor and American Electric Power Co. Inc. proposed a series of new transmission lines and autotransformers, collectively called the Far West Texas Project, to create a loop south and west of Odessa to meet increased demand for electricity from oil and gas production and to interconnect potential solar generation resources. Regional grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas in June 2017 approved the Odessa-Riverton line and another segment but not the entire series of projects. Oncor has since submitted the Riverton-Moss line to ERCOT for review, saying load growth has outpaced projections contained in earlier studies.

The project is targeted for completion by the end of 2020. (Public Utility Commission of Texas Docket No. 48095)