Study extols benefits of proposed US wind energy transmission line

December 19, 2016

By Richard A. Kessler
19 December 2016

A new study suggests Pattern Energy Group’s proposed Southern Cross wind energy transmission project linking Texas to the Southeast will produce $3.9bn in positive “economic impact” to the states of Louisiana and Mississippi.

The 500kV project will have 2GW capacity. Pattern hopes to start construction in 2018 with delivery of power underway in 2021. It has not said how much the project will cost, but intends to finance it entirely with private capital.

The wind energy would originate from the main ERCOT grid that serves about 90% of Texas’ electrical load.

According to business consultants Moss Adams, which did the study, Southern Cross will generate $1.05bn in direct economic impact over 30 years for each state. This includes expenditures incurred in development and construction.

A further $1.4bn in “indirect and induced” impact would result from additional economic activities, with the project also generating $633m over 30 years in local operations and maintenance expenditures. It will further produce $441m in property taxes.

The Moss Adams study also forecast other project economic benefits including lower annual wholesale electricity costs; income for landowners hosting the project; creation of 650 temporary jobs during construction and an unspecified number of permanent ones for operation, and environmental and health savings from less burning of fossil fuels.

“The Southern Cross project will be one of the nation’s first overhead HVDC transmission lines constructed in nearly two decades,” says Mike Garland, chief executive of Pattern Energy Group.

Garland notes Southern Cross will also increase electrical reliability through providing access to the diverse generation resources in both Texas and the southeast.

Southern Cross is one of several long-distance wind energy transmission projects that are either moving toward construction, or in the process of obtaining key regulatory approvals. The need for more heavy-duty “backbone” transmission is the wind industry’s biggest infrastructure priority, as it lacks access to some of the nation’s best resource.

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