Source – Grid Monitor,
Extensive repair work on transmission lines owned by Electric Transmission Texas (ETT) in the Texas Panhandle will likely continue for another two years, ETT President Kip Fox told the Wholesale Market Subcommittee (WMS) Wednesday. ETT recently updated its planned outages in the ERCOT outage scheduler to show planned maintenance extending through December 2021.
Mr. Fox calls December 2021, “our worst case scenario,” adding, “We fully expect to beat that date. June 2021 is our target.”
ETT is in the process of replacing thousands of defective tower arms from two different manufacturers and perfecting tower welds to meet required engineering standards. The need for extensive repairs to the recently constructed transmission lines in the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) area of the Panhandle was communicated to the market in mid-2017 and outages began later that year and have been taking their toll on Panhandle wind generators since.
“Generators were initially told these outages would be resolved much quicker than they have been,” said Jean Ryall, representing the Advanced Power Alliance. She stated ETT’s earliest estimates anticipated completing the repair work by the end of 2018. “Now we are hearing it will be the end of 2021,” she said. “How are generators supposed to plan around that?”
Mr. Fox said several factors are driving the delayed completion of the arm replacements including availability of replacement arms and landowner issues but the biggest factors have been weather-related impacts to work in the field. Construction crews must take a “wind out” when surface winds are sustained at or greater than 25 mph, plus rain, mud, and lightning also force crews to sit idle.
ETT used scaffolding rather than cranes and bucket trucks in certain areas to be able to work in windier conditions.
According to materials posted on ETT’s website regarding the outages, the transmission utility has used scaffolding rather than cranes and bucket trucks in certain areas to be able to work in windier conditions, used drones to inspect welds while wires are hot, and other ways of improving efficiency and minimizing outage impacts, including returning lines to service when weather forecasts suggest prolonged inability for construction crews to work. Mr. Fox told WMS that ETT also prioritized work on elements included in the Panhandle Generic Transmission Constraint (GTC) to minimize market impacts.
Walter Reid, also representing the Advanced Power Alliance, said the ETT outages may have already cost ERCOT consumers $50 million in increased production costs due to Panhandle wind generation curtailment and estimated that total could exceed $150 million by the end of the outages.
WMS Chair David Key of CPS Energy said he would update the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) on the ETT outage discussion at its next meeting and Mr. Fox agreed to return to WMS with another update in October.