On December 7, 2006, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas ("ERCOT") completed a study of the wind energy production potential in the state of Texas, along with the transmission constraints that are most likely to limit the delivery of electricity from wind energy resources. This study was conducted to support the Public Utility Commission of Texas ("PUCT") in meeting its requirements under the Public Utility Regulatory Act of 2005, Section 39.904 (g), to designate Competitive Renewable Energy Zones ("CREZ"). The goal of establishing CREZ was to increase the amount of electricity delivered to customers by using renewable generation resources in Texas, in a manner most beneficial and cost-effective to the customers. CREZ was particularly aimed at delivering electricity generated by wind farms in rural northern and western Texas to Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and other areas in the Lone Star State. The benefits of this endeavor as initially proposed would result in an increase of the state's use of a cost-free fuel source, a reduction in the use of generation technologies that result in air emissions, and diversification of the state's electric generating resource portfolio.
The PUCT was responsible for developing a plan to construct the transmission capacity necessary to deliver this electric output from renewable energy technologies in the CREZ to electric customers. In addition, the PUCT was also charged with selecting the Transmission Service Providers ("TSPs") responsible for constructing these transmission improvements, which they selected in January 2009. All CREZ projects were scheduled to be complete by the end of 2013. The overall CREZ initiative involves nine (9) different TSPs (including ETT) constructing 2,400 miles of transmission lines to carry 18,500 megawatts of west Texas wind generation to major load centers in ERCOT.
ETT received 20 percent of the Texas CREZ initiative from the PUCT (the second largest assignment), responsible for constructing CREZ-related transmission projects. ETT's share of the CREZ project included building approximately 465 miles of new double-circuit 345-kV lines, upgrading three (3) 138-kV existing lines (totaling 178 miles) and the building and/or upgrading of 16 switching stations, as well as acquiring rights-of-way across 578 tracts of land and upgrading existing stations and transmission lines. It is the largest transmission construction venture in AEP's history, and one of its most demanding. In addition to assigning ETT the second largest share of the transmission projects, the PUCT also assigned ETT the largest amount of advanced technology projects associated with the CREZ initiative. Given that the ETT CREZ transmission projects are located in the center or ‘backbone' of the area designated for development, ETT was charged with incorporating new technology that supports system stability as the power produced by wind generators in remote west Texas areas is carried long distances to the eastern areas of ERCOT.
ETT energized its final CREZ project, the 345-kV line between Cottonwood and Edith Clarke on December 4, 2013, three weeks ahead of the December 31, 2013 construction deadline set by the PUCT. This CREZ transmission system built by ETT in Texas will provide reliable transmission for its customers over the next 60-70 years.