Transmission line project could be worth $2B to state’s economy

Published 10:37 am Thursday, December 29, 2016

By Kendra Ablaza

Mississippi Today

A proposed electricity transmission line that could power Mississippi homes and businesses would be a $1.9 billion economic benefit to Mississippians, the project’s developers say.

Email newsletter signup

Southern Cross Transmission Project, a unit of the wind power-driven San Francisco-based utility company Pattern Energy, on Monday released a study led by Seattle accounting firm Moss Adams touting its proposed interstate transmission line project.

The plan is to build a 400-mile transmission line spanning from the Texas-Louisiana state line to the Mississippi-Alabama state line that could power hundreds of thousands of homes in between.

Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Development, said the project would be the nation’s first

overhead high voltage direct current transmission lines constructed in nearly two decades.

“When complete, the project will provide significant reliability and economic benefits by connecting two  robust systems. All of the capital investment required for the project is being provided by private investors,” Garland said in a news release.

Once built, electricity would flow into Mississippi from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, transmission grid.

ERCOT announced in November that wind generation provided more than 15,000 megawatts of electricity for their service region—which includes most of Texas—about 45 percent of the region’s demand for power at that time.

Building the line would allow Mississippi utility companies to purchase and sell Texas-produced electricity to customers at a low cost. It would also diversify the state’s energy portfolio by adding more green power into the mix, Southern Cross officials said.

The Moss Adams study states, among other things, that building the privately-funded transmission line through Mississippi could pour nearly $735 million into the state just in development and construction costs.

Counties where the line passes through could also collect $246 million over a 30-year period from property taxes, Southern Cross said.

Meanwhile, Southern Cross expects to summon local Mississippi businesses for up to 69 jobs, eventually creating about 23 permanent jobs that include maintenance and operation over the project’s life.

Sam Britton, public-service commissioner for the Southern District, said recently that Southern Cross is negotiating with private landowners to obtain the necessary access.

Next, developers and interested landowners are currently finalizing route options to present to the Mississippi Public Service Commission; that plan could be ready around mid-January.

After holding open houses and collecting public comments from agencies and citizens, those route alternatives will be modified, analyzed and presented again to the Mississippi Public Service Commission, who will give the final approval of the exact route.

The Southern Cross Project received approval from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2014.