As we await the Public Utility Commission of Texas’ final approval of the plan to build 2,376 miles of electric transmission from West Texas to the IH-35 corridor and upper Gulf Coast, let’s take a closer look at its costs.

All reports stop at saying the Electric Reliability Council of Texas estimates the plan to cost $4.93 billion. For transmission lines and substations alone, the cost is estimated at $2,074,915.82 per mile.

However, this is not the end of the costs. ERCOT’s estimates do not include the higher right-of-way costs likely to be incurred in congested areas. Additionally, ERCOT’s costs were estimated using straight-line lengths. Thus, transmission costs were estimated using a best-case-scenario approach. Estimates also exclude non-transmission costs of wind energy development, which will be passed on to ratepayers as well. Finally, ERCOT calculated costs using 2007 dollars. Seen any articles on inflation lately?

When all is said and done, we will wish those lines cost only $4.93 billion.

– Drew Thornley