Wired for Growth: $66M project will supply power to plethora of expansion projects, help attract businesses to Southeast Texas

Entergy officials joined with business leaders and elected officials at the Stowell Substation, south of Winnie on State Highway 65, on Tuesday, May 1, to “cut the wire” on a transmission project that is part of a three-year, $2 billion investment by Entergy Texas to modernize infrastructure to provide more reliable and affordable energy across Southeast Texas.

The wire-cutting ceremony officially launched construction of Entergy Texas, Inc.’s 230-kV China-Stowell Transmission Project. The $66 million project will ensure reliable, low-cost power for Entergy Texas’ customers and create additional economic impact across the area.

“As the state’s population continues to grow, Entergy is investing in new infrastructure to meet the growing demand of the region, and ensure that everyone has access to reliable energy,” said Sallie Rainer, Entergy Texas president and CEO.

With a plethora of industrial expansion projects and new construction in the area, power is needed to operate these facilities.

Recently completed, those under construction, and proposed industrial projects along the Sabine-Neches Waterway alone total $76.8 billion, according to the Sabine Neches Navigation District.

“There’s increasing demand for energy in this part of the country (for these industrial projects)… and if you look at the backbone of our transmission system … more and more (transmission) projects like this are going to be needed to move bulk electricity around Southeast Texas — move it between these stations, get it from power plants and move it to where it’s needed,” Entergy Texas Business and Economic Development Director Steve Pilgrim said. “You can’t wait until every project is announced. You’ve got to look … at what your trends are going to be — what’s the status, what’s the state of your assets and how are you in a position to meet those anticipated needs while maintaining affordable and reasonable costs.”

Ramping up power also helps recruit new businesses to the area, Pilgrim said.

“When we bring in prospects to talk about investing in Southeast Texas … after talking about workforce, which is a non-issue in this area … we immediately begin talking about infrastructure,” he said. “You’re (talking) about deep-water ports, waterways, pipelines, raw materials — all of those things that it takes to bring in supplies and raw materials to a manufacturing facility and then export or move them domestically around the country, but I think of electricity as another part of that infrastructure. Without electricity none of that would get done. … It’s one of our strong points in this part of the country in terms of cost. There are so many industries in this part of the country that really operate on thin margins, so that’s why the price of our product and service is critical. It’s treated as another raw material and the reliability of the delivery of that raw material is critical.”

When completed in 2019, the China-Stowell Transmission Project will feature 25 miles of high-voltage transmission lines that span from just west of China in Jefferson County to the Stowell Substation in Chambers County. It will be the fourth and newest source of high voltage power in the Stowell area.

“This energy that’s coming to us is going to open up our interstate corridor here to a multitude of businesses that want to come in and invest in our county,” Chambers County Commissioner Jimmy Gore said. “It’s going to add more tax base to our businesses in the surrounding area.”

Jefferson County Commissioner Eddie Arnold added that Entergy is a great corporate citizen not only for the region, but also for the state and the nation, and that the relationship between Chambers and Jefferson counties  will help spur economic growth for both.

“Providing this … high power transmission (project) opens up a lot of opportunities in economic development not only for East Chambers County, but also Jefferson County. … We’ve also had a great working relationship with Chambers County. We partner on a lot of things. Their economic windfalls also spread into our area and vice versa, so we’re ready to work with them in any way we can to make this a very successful project.”

The new lines will support and enable economic growth in the area, as well as enhance reliability for existing and future customers.           

“Our investments will benefit our communities by investing today to power tomorrow,” Rainer said.

These capital investments will not only allow for expansion in Southeast Texas, but they will also improve electrical service to customers in the 27 counties that Entergy Texas serves.

The investments include:

  • $600 million in transmission projects
  • $825 million in new power generation
  • $415 million in distribution upgrades

Besides the China-Stowell Transmission Project, other projects that are part of the investments include:

  • The Montgomery County Power Station, Entergy’s first generation investment in Texas since building the Sabine Plant in 1979.
  • The Port Arthur Reliability Project, a 230 kV transmission project that will provide additional support to vital industrial customers across the region.
  • The West Region Economic Project that will add transmission in the Conroe-Huntsville area.
  • An Advanced Metering System that will provide customers with the energy solutions that reduce outages and give them more control of their energy usage.

 

Photo by Kevin King - Entergy Texas President and CEO Sallie Rainer helped “cut the wire” during the China-Stowell Transmission Ceremony, held Tuesday, May 1, at the Stowell Substation. Pictured (from left) are Entergy Vice President of Capital Projects Jon Long, Chambers County Commissioner Jimmy Gore, Rainer, Jefferson County Commissioner Eddie Arnold, Entergy Texas Business and Economic Development Director Steve Pilgrim, Senior Customer Service Manager for the East Region Frank Shannon and Senior Grid Manager Dean Adams.

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