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Improvements to BTU Transmission Lines Could Help Prevent Power Outages

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Bryan Texas Utilities upgrades its power transmission lines roughly every 10 to 12 years. The last major system improvement was in 1992 and now, the time has come again.

"Our reliability from the transmission system is not bad now, but under certain contingencies of outages of a few lines, we can have voltage sags," said BTU General Manager Dan Wilkerson.

Wilkerson said the upgrades will essentially keep the lights on.

After the blackout in 2003, which left Bryan/College Station in the dark, BTU realized something needed to be done. The problem is all transmission lines come out of the Gibbons Creek Power Plant. But, BTU has plans to build a second power source in Kurten.

Wilkerson said BTU will build 8 new sub-stations to accommodate growth. The one in Kurten can act as a backup source if any problems come up.

"We hope that if a line goes out of service for one reason or another that it's seamless, that the customers will not see an outage at all," said Patrick Kasper, Division Manager of Electric Transmission.

Customers will not even see a rate increase. BTU will sell revenue bonds to fund the improvements.

"To use this much cash would stress us a bit in terms of rates, so it's better when you're making long-term improvements like this to use debt," said Wilkerson.

The company expects to sell $60 million in bonds over a five year period. If the Bryan City Council passes a revenue bond ordinance on Tuesday, BTU will start the funding process by selling a $12 million bond.