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New $1B power line to improve South Texas service

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News,Business,Texas

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — Construction continues on a new $1 billion electricity line in South Texas that officials said will not only improve service in the state's Rio Grande Valley but also allow energy generated in South Texas to be delivered to the rest of the state.

The project was approved by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas — the state's electric grid operator — and the Public Utility Commission after a cold snap in February 2011 brought snow and ice to much of the state and resulted in rolling blackouts.

The new line is set to be completed by 2016, the Monitor of McAllen reported (http://bit.ly/Z4CPbK ) on Monday.

The project's cost is being paid by all Texas electricity users as officials said the line would theoretically reduce congestion on the state power grid.

The new line is part of the Cross Valley Project, headed by American Electric Power Texas and its affiliate, Electric Transmission Texas.

Currently, more than 1.3 million people rely on two 20-year-old electricity lines in South Texas that run down from the Corpus Christi area to North Edinburg and Rio Hondo.

The project will not only provide the Rio Grande Valley with added capacity for energy delivery, but it will also allow American Electric Power to maintain the two existing lines more easily, said Lee Jones, a spokesman for AEP Texas.

"For some time we wanted to build a line from Laredo to Edinburg because the capacity needs, with the area growing, it needs extra capacity," Jones said. "And one of the problems of only having two lines is that on the hot summer days too, we need both up and running and there's no opportunity to take them down for maintenance."

Officials said the project will allow more energy generated by the Rio Grande Valley to be delivered north, like the power produced at a $410 million wind farm under construction in Starr County.

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Information from: The Monitor, http://www.themonitor.com

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