Interests of electric power transmission, generation often conflict
The Houston Import Project flap has highlighted Electric Reliability Council of Texas generation and transmission owners’ competing interests, and attendees of a regional trade conference on Wednesday received a thorough briefing — but no resolution — of the issues involved.
The Houston Import Project is a 345-kV line that would connect a substation in the southeast part of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ North Hub to a substation in northwest Harris County in ERCOT’s Houston Hub.
On April 24, Cross Texas Transmission and CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric applied for certificates of convenience and necessity to build the project, which links the eastern corner of Limestone County near Jewett, Texas, through Singleton, Texas, to a substation west of Tomball, Texas (Public Utility Commission of Texas projects 44649 and 44547). CenterPoint is the electricity transmission and distribution service provider for most of the Houston area.
On July 22, Calpine and NRG Energy filed testimony challenging the applications, arguing that ERCOT’s recommendation in favor of the Houston Import Project was outweighed by defects in the ERCOT analysis and inappropriate exercise of its discretion in the matter.
On September 23, the PUC staff submitted a proposed order approving a certificate of convenience and necessity for the project, on which the PUC has not yet acted.
It was with the backdrop of this case that Ross Baldick, a University of Texas professor of electrical and computer engineering, moderated a panel discussion entitled “Changing currents in transmission” at the Gulf Coast Power Association’s Fall Conference in Austin.
“Almost inevitably, there’s a tension between” largely regulated transmission interests and relatively deregulated generation interests, Baldick said, introducing the subject.
“How do we get those competing forces to play well?” he asked.