Southern Spirit Transmission project aims to connect ERCOT to the southeastern US power grid

The project, in partnership with state regulators and Pattern Energy, could provide ERCOT with up to 3,000 megawatts of power in case of emergency.

The Austin skyline as seen from Lady Bird Lake, with buildings reflected in the water.

Southern Spirit Transmission has quietly been in the works for over a decade.

Photo by ATXtoday

The federal and Texas governments granted approval to build a connection line from Texas’ ERCOT power grid to the southeastern US grid.

Let’s break down what this means for Texas.

According to Dallas Morning News, state regulators and private company Pattern Energy have been working to create the “Southern Spirit Transmission,” for at least a decade. The $2.6 billion project would be privately funded by Pattern Energy and result in at least 320 miles of line from Texas through Mississippi and Louisiana.

Construction on the connection is slated to begin in 2026 with service starting in late 2029. This new line would provide more than double the capacity of all Texas’ four existing connections.

Here’s what we know:

Editor’s note: For reference, one megawatt of electricity has the capacity to power ~200 homes.

  • The new connection will be the biggest in Texas, supporting 525kV (or 3,000 megawatts) of transmission, potentially in either direction.
  • The line would increase electricity diversification + reliability, preserve ERCOT’s independence, and offer support during times of peak demand.
  • ERCOT already has two connections to the Southwest Power Pool, which provides ~820 megawatts of power, and two lines to the Comision Federal de Electricidad in Mexico, which provides ~400 megawatts of power.

Why does this matter?

Two scooters and W. 2nd Street covered in snow.

Austin saw six inches of snow during Winter Storm Uri in February 2021.

Photo by ATXtoday

ERCOT has struggled to meet power demands, particularly during inclement weather.

During February 2021, “The Great Texas Freeze” left millions of people without power for up to nine days. The storm was the longest freezing streak ever recorded in Texas history.

However, this project won’t only benefit Texans. Southern Spirit could create 3,000 construction jobs and $600 million in tax revenue for Mississippi and Louisiana.

What’s next?

Mississippi and Louisiana still need to approve the project, according to Dallas Morning News. ERCOT is required to present updates to both state’s regulators every six months in the meantime.

Learn more about the project.

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