TxDOT and Electric Power Transmission Lines

Phillip Nash, Douglas Smith, Richard Walker, John Hood, Benjamin Welch, Joseph Sober, Ben Knipstein, Nathan Hutson, Lisa Loftus-Otway

Research output: Other contribution


Rural Areas of Texas are being extensively developed as locations for renewable energy projects and generation facilities. Wind power, solar power and other renewable energy technologies are viewed by the public as the next economic boom and have been compared to the oil boom of the early twentieth century. However, studies have indicated that the existing transmission network is unable to support significant transmission of electricity from additional wind generation in West Texas. The Public Utilities Commission of Texas commissioned a study to analyze the need and certain costs and benefits of transmission to integrate wind resources into the existing transmission infrastructure, selected sites and grouped them into 25 zones called Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) in pursuit of adequate future transmission. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has the potential for a unique and expansive role in the development of future transmission capacity given the authorizations contained in House Bill 3588 that allow the department to build, own, or operate transmission. The purpose of this study was to provide baseline information and case studies to better define TxDOT’s role in electric power transmission lines and partnering with public utilities. Technical and legal issues were documented in literature and legal reviews. Stakeholders in electric power generation and transmission were identified and researchers interviewed a variety of state agencies, transmission providers, non-profit organizations involved in the renewable energy industry, property rights advocates, independent system operators, public utilities and other state departments of transportation. The researchers conclude that at present, the location of transmission alongside transportation is a reasonable and achievable goal. While there are incongruencies in the comparative planning regimens of TxDOT and transmission developers, none seem to present an unbreachable barrier to successful joint development. There are numerous examples of successful installations around the country. In most cases, these alignments are placed just outside of the highway right of way on private land, though in a few cases they have also been placed within the ROW. Avoiding conflict with landowners and preserving landscapes was found to be the primary motivation for co-location. Researchers offer five recommendations concerning TxDOT’s roles and responsibilities in utility accommodation.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTexas Department of Transportation
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010


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