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A plan to build a 400-mile electricity transmission line from the Texas-Louisiana state line to the Mississippi-Alabama state line was formally submitted to the Mississippi Public Service Commission this week for approval.
Officials of Southern Cross Transmission Project, a unit of the wind power-driven San Francisco-based utility company Pattern Energy, said their proposed transmission line could power hundreds of thousands of homes.
In the company’s filing submitted late Tuesday, Southern Cross asked the commission to approve a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, which would give Southern Cross the green light to start building their line.
Examining the project could take a few months, Public Service Commissioner Cecil Brown said. The commission will also host public hearings to let affected landowners and public officials voice their praise or concerns over the projects before it makes its decision.
“If it performs as they (Southern Cross) believe it will, and if the cost of power is as low as they believe it will be to be competitive, there’s every reason to be optimistic about it,” Brown said. “We don’t know until we’ve had the hearings and gone through all the filings. All we know so far is what we’ve been told by the company.”
Brown said, so far, building the privately-funded transmission line seems attractive.
He said Southern Cross is making a $700 million-plus investment in Mississippi and will employ a large number of people over the construction period and up to 25 people permanently. The project would also bring in a large increase in local tax revenue for local governments, including school districts.
“It’s a big economic boom to the state,” Brown said.
The project would build a ±500-kilovolt high voltage direct current transmission line with a base load capacity of 2,000 megawatts. Once built, electricity would flow into Mississippi from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, transmission grid, which has an installed wind capacity of 20,320 megawatts.
Southern Cross officials say 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.
Counties where the line passes through could also collect $246 million over a 30-year period from property taxes, Southern Cross said.
The company’s preferred route would cross the Mississippi River in Issaquena County and continue eastward through Washington, Sharkey, Humphreys, Holmes, Carroll, Montgomery, Choctaw, Oktibbeha, Clay and Monroe counties before terminating at a converter station in Lowndes County.
Denton Gibbes, a spokesman for the Southern Cross Transmission Project, said the project is expected to employ about 325 jobs in Mississippi during the peak of its construction phase. It would then provide about 23 permanent jobs primarily for a converter station it will build in Lowndes County.
If approved by Mississippi regulators, the project is expected to start construction in 2018 and begin delivering power in 2021.