A construction boom appears to be on the grid for Oklahoma. The state is in line for about $500 million in high-voltage power line projects, part of a slate of transmission jobs meant to boost the region’s power grid.
The priority projects were approved Tuesday by the board of directors for the Southwest Power Pool. Construction notices will be issued once the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission signs off on a proposed cost-sharing plan for the projects, which total more than $1.1 billion. "We’re very excited about this,” said Mel Perkins, vice president of power delivery for Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. Perkins, who is also part of Southwest Power Pool’s members committee, said OG&E intends to build the Oklahoma sections of the two projects running out of Woodward. One will go west to Guymon and the other will go northwest to the Kansas border. Public Service Co. of Oklahoma and its parent company, American Electric Power, will handle the other two state projects: a reactor in Tulsa and a power line connecting Valliant to Texarkana, Texas, said Kip Fox, AEP’s manager of regional transmission organization policy. Oklahoma State University professor Shannon Ferrell said the approval of those projects was an important milestone for Oklahoma. "For years, one of the primary constraints on the development of the wind energy industry here has been an inability to get power to market,” Ferrell said. "The projects approved this week will help remove those constraints, and I think this development will spur wind industry activity even beyond what we have already seen.” Fox said the projects are meant to move wind power from the west side of the Southwest Power Pool’s eight-state area to the east side, where most of the load centers are located. He said there are gaping holes in some areas of the region, with no transmission lines. That will change once the new projects — which include new transmission lines in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri — are completed. Fox said he also expects the new transmission lines to reduce price variability and allow fuel flexibility. Joe Kirik, spokesman for transmission company ITC Great Plains, said Southwest Power Pool officials have done a good job of figuring out the best way to beef up the region’s power grid. "They’re putting together all of the pieces of the puzzle,” he said. ITC currently is working on a power line between Hugo and Valliant.
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Projects planned for stateFour of the priority projects approved this week by the Southwest Power Pool board of directors are in Oklahoma.
• Double-circuit 345-kilovolt line from Woodward to Comanche County, Kan., for $108 million
• Double-circuit 345-kilovolt line from Woodward to Hitchland, Texas, for $247 million
• 345-kilovolt line from Valliant to Texarakana, Texas, for $131 million
• New equipment in Tulsa County for $840,000
• Other projects are a double-circuit 345-kilovolt line from Spearville to Comanche County to Medicine Lodge to Wichita in Kansas for $356 million and a 345-kilovolt line from Nebraska City, Neb., to Maryville, Mo., to Sibley, Mo., for $301 million