ERCOT, AEP Texas invest heavily in RGV growth
McALLEN — Thousands across the Rio Grande Valley were without power. Voltage concerns caused outages in McAllen, Edinburg, Harlingen and San Benito.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas instructed Valley-area transmission and distribution service providers to reduce demand on their electric system. At the time, in October 2014 when this happened, an AEP Texas spokesman called the situation a “lack of generation capacity.”
“There was power in the Valley,” ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said. “But it was not keeping up.”
The Valley had become too much for the electric grid. Kip Fox from AEP Texas called the Valley’s growth “unprecedented.”
That growth has been indisputable, which is why, three years after those rolling blackouts and more than $1 billion, the system has transformed.
A long transmission line was constructed to supply power to the Valley that goes through the western side of South Texas that was energized last summer, Fox said, and cost roughly a half billion dollars. Before, the only lines coming to the Valley came from Corpus Christi. This new line is not exposed to potential coastal problems; it’s an entire new wing of power.
“A hurricane comes in, you’re not wiping out an entire grid of power,” Fox said.
There are plenty of ongoing improvements to the region’s electric grid. A 225 megawatt natural gas-fired plant in Hidalgo County and a 95 megawatt wind generation facility in Cameron County will help address transmission system stability needs.