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The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) board of directors has voted to endorse an approximately $590 million electric transmission project that will increase the capacity to deliver power to the Houston region.

ERCOT says the Houston Import Project will include the construction of a new double-circuit 345 kV transmission line spanning about 130 miles, upgrades to three substations to accommodate the new connections and additional capacity, and improvements to an existing line to increase its power rating. The project, ERCOT reports, is based on proposals submitted by CenterPoint Energy, Cross Texas Transmission and Garland Power & Light.

According to the independent system operator, the Houston area has relied increasingly on power imports from other parts of the ERCOT grid to support its growing demands. Power plant retirements have outpaced new generation in the region by about 2,000 MW in the past decade, and transmission facilities that import power into the region are nearing their limits.

"This already is one of the most congested areas in the ERCOT grid," notes ERCOT Transmission Planning Manager Jeff Billo. "We have evaluated this concern from a variety of perspectives, and under every scenario, this project is needed to support reliability in the region by summer 2018."

Prior to construction, the project will be subject to additional review and approvals by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

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