Wind Energy Transmission Texas (WETT) is a joint venture between Brookfield Asset Management and Isolux Corsan Concesiones, two electric transmission development companies working together to build and operate high-voltage greenfield transmission lines in Texas.
In 2005 the Texas Legislature established Texas’ Renewable Energy Program and asked the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) to locate Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZs) in Texas. CREZs are designated wind-rich areas that can be used for renewable energy. Five CREZs were identified in the Texas panhandle, West and Central Texas and McCamey, Texas, the “wind energy capital” of the state.
On December 15, 2006, the PUC published their Competitive Renewable Energy Zone Rule, which calls for the delivery of electric energy from renewable resources to Texas customers in the most advantageous and cost effective way. The rule was well received by wind developers; however, a lack of transmission lines in Texas has hindered wind production in the state. Without sufficient transmission lines, wind farms in West Texas and the Panhandle cannot transport the wind to major cities in the center and easter part of the state.
As part of the CREZ Rule, Wind Energy Transmission Texas was asked to construct approximately 286 miles of the nearly 2,400 miles of electric transmission lines proposed for the state. Controversy has arisen over the locations of the transmission lines and corresponding substations. Many of the lines would cross property landowners consider to be the most scenic in the state. Five steel lattice towers per mile would support the WETT lines. Some landowners have called the transmission lines that typically run between 120 and 180 feet above ground “eyesores” and say they ruin the storied Texas views. Denton County has unanimously opposed the construction of transmission lines there. In April 2010, the PUC rejected a proposed route through the Texas Hill Country.
Despite these delays, state regulators approved a different route in January 2011 that will run through nearly 140 miles the Hill Country. Construction is expected to begin in 2012.