FAQ and Resources

Find answers to your questions about the Southern Cross Transmission Project.

Below you’ll find some frequently asked questions about the Southern Cross Project. You may also browse the FAQs by category. For questions regarding specific states, please select a state from the menu on the right. If you cannot find answers to your questions, please contact us.

General

The Southern Cross Project is designed to facilitate the development of additional Texas wind projects for transmission to markets in the Southeastern U.S. By creating the capability to move electricity bi-directionally between the ERCOT and Southeast regions, the Project will result in more efficient utilization of generation and improved competitive conditions throughout both regions.

Pattern Energy Group LP (“Pattern Development”) recognized the benefits of exporting wind power from Texas, which is home to some of the highest wind resource regions in the United States, to the Southeast which has almost no economic wind resources. It is developing the Southern Cross Project to provide those benefits. Pattern Development is a leader in developing renewable energy and transmission assets. With a global footprint spanning North America, South America, the Caribbean and Japan, Pattern Development’s highly-experienced team has brought more than 4,000 MW of wind capacity to market. Pattern Development is also one of the few teams that have successfully completed the development of an independent transmission line in the United States.

Southern Cross Transmission LLC (Southern Cross Project), an affiliate of Pattern Development, will own and operate the line.

In general, we need to route the line from a new converter station in the DeSoto Parish in Louisiana, and extend eastward for approximately 400 miles to a new converter station located near the Mississippi/Alabama state line.

The Southern Cross Project is DC, or more specifically, High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC). The use of HVDC transmission results in less electrical loss along the transmission line and therefore is more efficient over long distances when compared to AC transmission lines with similar voltages. HVDC also allows for the connections of separate grids such as between the electrical grid found in the ERCOT region of Texas and the electrical grid of the Southeastern U.S.

We anticipate the final route will be identified by December 2016.

The Southern Cross Project will span approximately 400 miles, extending from the eastern border of Louisiana to the western border of Mississippi.

Yes, public input is a critical component of the Southern Cross Project. We will be hosting public open houses along the alternative routes in June in each of Louisiana and Mississippi to solicit input on the preliminary alternative routes, answer questions, and address any concerns. The meetings in Louisiana will be held on June 20, 21, 22, and 23. The meetings in Mississippi will be held on June 27, 28, 29, and 30. Additional meeting information can be found on the Louisiana and Mississippi pages of this website.

In Mississippi, the Southern Cross Project will submit an application to the Mississippi PSC for approval of one of several alternative routes that we will identify. The MPSC will select the final route, and the Southern Cross Project will work with various permitting agencies to secure the necessary permits for that route.

On average, the height of the structures will be approximately 120 feet with spans between structures of approximately 1,000 to 1,200 feet. The Southern Cross Project is currently considering the use of Tubular steel monopoles structures on the straight line runs and Lattice steel structures on the corners and crossings (such as rivers, highways, and other long spans.) Other structure types are also being considered. This approach is subject to final route and design.

The average span, or distance between structures, will be approximately 1,000 to 1,200 feet.

The typical easement width will be 180 feet.

Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2018.

The Southern Cross Project is planned to be placed in service in 2021.

Letter invitations to attend the public open houses will be/were sent to property owners located within 500 feet of all possible route options. Once a final route is determined, all previously contacted landowners will be notified by mail and those that will be directly impacted by the selected route will be contacted by Project team members.

While construction of an underground transmission line in concept could be built, cable sizes and other technical issues make it technically infeasible. Generally this type of construction, even if the equipment were available, is cost prohibitive and the environment impacts may be significantly higher.

The Southern Cross Project transmission line will be HVDC and will be constructed to be separate from the existing AC transmission lines, which form the power grid in the Southeastern U.S. The direction and amount of electricity is very difficult to control with AC transmission lines. The ability to control direction and amount of electricity is, in fact, a major advantage of HVDC technology. Because the Southern Cross Project is designed to move power directly from the Texas ERCOT grid to the Southeast, and vice versa, simply increasing the capacity of the existing AC system is not an appropriate solution for purpose of the project.

Benefits

The construction of the line will result in positive economic benefits in your community including construction jobs, easement payments to affected landowners, and property tax payments to local parishes and counties through which the line runs. The Southern Cross Project will also endeavor to use local shops for manufacturing components for the Project.

We are now in the process of estimating the number of construction jobs that will be needed. When we have that estimate, we will be sure to provide it. High voltage electrical work is very specialized and will require highly trained labor as well as some general labor. The Southern Cross Project is interested in learning of opportunities to partner with local resources and vendors. If you have questions about being a supplier or are interested in looking for work on the Southern Cross Project, please contact us via email at suppliers@southerncrosstransmission.com

Routing

The Southern Cross Project is currently in the planning stage of routing, is evaluating various alternative routes, and has not determined a final route for the transmission line. The Project is currently working with federal, state, and local agencies to collect information on the study area which will be used to help develop a set of alternative routes that will be presented to the public at open houses. Following the public open houses, and the collection of comments from agencies and the public, the alternatives will be modified, analyzed and, in the case of Mississippi, presented to the Mississippi Public Service Commission (MPSC). The MPSC will determine the final route for the Southern Cross Project.

Some of the criteria reviewed when determining a potential route include number and proximity of residences, agricultural land, sensitive habitat and protected species, proximity of schools, churches, parks, conservation areas, public input and other factors.

We anticipate the final route will be identified by December 2016.

Roads, other power lines, and railroads have been identified as existing corridors for the Southern Cross Project routing opportunities. We will evaluate the use of existing corridors on a case by case basis, while taking into consideration available space, safety of the public, and the ability to obtain permits. We hope that landowners will provide ideas to use existing corridors during the public outreach process.

We will mail a letter to all affected landowners who live or have property within 500′ of any of the proposed alternative routes we are considering. Once a final route is selected, we will again notify affected landowners by mail, and landowners affected by the final route should expect to be contacted by a right-of-way agent soon after.

Right of Way

Southern Cross Project team members will contact landowners for the purpose of conducting good-faith and open negotiations for an easement for the new line. Details of the Southern Cross Project, property rights needed, location of the easement, and compensation will be discussed with each property owner individually. Southern Cross will follow its code of ethics, in addition to State Laws and applicable court rules regarding right-of-way acquisition.

An easement, also called a right-of-way or ROW, is a legal right to use someone’s land for a specific purpose. In the case of the Southern Cross Project, landowners will be asked to grant an easement for the purpose of building and maintaining an electric transmission line.

Southern Cross team members will first attempt to openly negotiate the purchase of an easement from an affected landowner, at a value consistent with fair market valuations. If an agreement cannot be reached, the eminent domain or expropriation laws of the state can be utilized as a last resort.

From time to time, utilities, oil/gas operators, and other private companies need to cross transmission easements. The Southern Cross Project will work with these and other types of companies, as well as the impacted landowner, to properly design and document new crossings of the transmission easement.

Property owners continue to own the land covered by the easement and may make use of the land for purposes that are consistent with the easement rights granted. For example, the area within the easement may continue to be used for hunting and typical agricultural purposes. The easement restricts the placement of buildings and structures within the easement area to ensure safety and reliability, and provides rights for the clearing and removal of vegetation. Oil/gas pipelines will be allowed to cross the right-of-way if approved by adjacent landowners and the crossings are properly designed and documented in coordination with the Southern Cross Project.

Easement compensation will be based on market valuations determined by independent, third party licensed real estate appraisers. Generally, the type of property being crossed and the location of the easement upon the property, and the effect of structures and overhead wires on the property will be factors in determining value. The intent of the compensation offered is to make the landowner whole by fully compensating them for the effect on the market value of their property caused by the exchange of property rights.

Landowners with the transmission line on their property will receive a payment at the time landowners sign the easement/servitude agreement and, at the start of construction, an additional one-time second payment, representing the balance of the fair compensation for the easement including associated crop or timber value. In addition, the project will provide compensation for any unanticipated damage caused during construction. The Project may consider landowner’s desire to receive annual payments in lieu of one-time payments if such approach is beneficial.

Other

Yes. The value of crop or timber will be assessed with the total value of the easement. Crop and timber values will be assessed at the current market rate. Your assigned Land Agent will assist you in filing a damage claim if construction activities impact your timber.

Yes. Areas affected by the construction of the line will be restored. Typical work consists of grading and seeding in the area with a grass seed mix. Any temporary access roads will be loosened, graded, seeded, and restored to pre-existing conditions when possible and in coordination with the landowner.

Individuals and families with a long history of working and living in the area may have information that can inform the route development process, even if an alternative route does not directly impact their property. We will be notifying landowners near each alternative route, but encourage all potentially affected landowners to remain engaged in the process.

The Southern Cross Project easements do not restrict hunting. Transmission lines can actually improve hunting because deer and certain other animals favor open areas near wooded areas (edge habitat). Landowners may still utilize their property within the easement for hunting or for hunting lease purposes. No structures, stands or blinds will be allowed in the easement area and care must be taken to avoid damage to the transmission lines and structures.

An environmental review will be conducted as part of the routing effort to identify, avoid and/or minimize impacts to environmentally sensitive areas. Once a route is selected, a survey of the right-of-way for environmentally sensitive areas, such as wetlands and threatened and endangered species habitat will be conducted, and any required permits and clearances from state and Federal environmental agencies will be obtained.

Low frequency radio reception may experience interference when a receiver is near an HVDC transmission line. FM radio, satellite television, cell phones, and GPS signals should not be affected by an HVDC transmission line.

The transmission line will cross some utility service territories, but will not sell directly to the public or directly interconnect utility facilities, other than at the converter stations at each end. Local utilities who see potential benefits of the Project to their ratepayers may choose to become a customer of the Project.

For safety purposes, the easement for a transmission line typically restricts the height of structures and equipment, such as cranes or drill rigs that can be used under the line. Therefore, it will not be possible to drill for oil or gas within the transmission line right-of-way. Drilling can be completed outside the right-of-way as long as it will not interfere with the transmission structures, the use of the easement, required setbacks or the transmission line itself in any way. If a landowner already has an oil/gas lease, then the Southern Cross Project will contact those companies or individuals to discuss construction of the line in relation to their existing or potential future oil/gas activities. Oil/gas pipelines will be allowed to cross the right-of-way if approved by adjacent landowners and the crossings are properly designed and documented in coordination with the project.

A converter station is a facility that converts electricity from AC to HVDC, or from HVDC back to AC. There is a converter station on each end of the Southern Cross Project, with an HVDC transmission line in between. In general, a converter station looks similar to a large switchyard or substation.

HVDC Transmission lines are not considered dangerous to humans. In fact, the magnetic fields from HVDC transmission lines are similar in nature and generally weaker than the earth’s magnetic field that makes a compass point north. This HVDC Transmission project is quite different than the typical AC transmission or distribution line that serve our homes and businesses and which have been studied for links to human health. The current and voltage on an AC line varies 60 times a second like a wave in the ocean, creating a large magnetic field. By contrast, HVDC line current and voltage flows constantly and creates a much smaller magnetic field. Please click here for more information.