Over the past decade, state regulators have been working with the private company Pattern Energy to create the “Southern Spirit Transmission.”
The 400-mile transmission line will begin at the Texas-Louisiana border and move through Louisiana and into Mississippi, connecting the states’ energy grids.
Depending on the need, power could move into or out of Texas. The line would move direct current instead of the more common alternating current, per The Dallas Morning News. The company said this allows for more efficient lines, leaving a smaller footprint for equivalent power.
Because of how the project is structured, federal regulators have no jurisdiction.
However, not everyone is happy with the project. Some Louisiana residents are concerned about the potential environmental impact of the miles of electric infrastructure lines that would cross their communities. Such residents criticized the initiative’s alleged lack of local benefits, with no Texas power expected to be used in Louisiana.
“There is no person in Louisiana to call if someone has a problem,” said an attorney only identified as Gilliam, per the Red River Parish Journal. “There is no entity in Louisiana that has jurisdiction over this company.”
However, Pattern Energy said the project is expected to generate 3,000 construction jobs for participating communities in Louisiana, in addition to millions of dollars in local impacts, like property tax revenue, according to the DMN.
Texas is familiar with small direct connections, like the existing ones in place with Mexico and the western and eastern U.S. grids.
As part of the current application process, the Texas Public Utility Commission has directed the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to provide updates on the project every six months.