Rapid growth prompts CPS Energy to move ahead with substation plans

CPS Energy, the public power utility serving San Antonio, Texas, is moving ahead with plans for two substations designed to meet the needs of the growing metropolitan area.

CPS Energy held an open house in September 2019 with area residents to discuss its planned Midtown substation on a site just north of downtown San Antonio. The utility purchased the property for the substation in March and is now finalizing design aspects to ensure that construction begins in summer 2021.

In October 2019, CPS Energy held a public open house for its planned Scenic Loop substation project, which is sited near Boerne outside of San Antonio city limits. Because the substation and associated transmission project are outside city limits, the utility will need approval by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) in the form of an amendment to CPS Energy’s Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) to own and operate transmission facilities within Texas.

For the past several months, CPS Energy has been preparing its application to submit to the PUCT this summer. The utility said the application would include alternative locations for the planned substation, as well as alternate routes for the associated transmission line.

Landowners close to the alternative substation sites and transmission line routes will have an opportunity to participate in the PUC’s consideration of the project. Following PUCT approval, CPS Energy will be required to pass a Board resolution and obtain a city ordinance enabling it to acquire the land needed for the chosen route and substation.

CPS Energy anticipates a June 2022 start date for construction of the Scenic Loop project with a January 2024 completion date.

The design calls for two 138-kV/35-kV, 100 MVA transformers that would be installed in two phases. The timing of the second phase has not been determined.

The proposed Midtown project calls for gas-insulated switchgear and a three-unit substation with one initial 138/13 kV transformer and 13 kV 4-feeder distribution switchgear. The substation will connect to CPS Energy’s existing Comal-to-Olmos 138-kV transmission line by two single-circuit transmission lines with a total length of about 0.07 mile. The project is scheduled to be in service by January 2023.

The Midtown substation is designed to provide additional electric capacity to support community growth and to improve the reliability of electric service in the area. CPS Energy’s forecast shows that load in the area will equal the existing electrical capacity by 2024.

CPS Energy completed another substation, Southton, in April 2020 and is working on another, the Shepherd Road substation and transmission line, slated for completion in November 2020.

San Antonio expects to add 1 million inhabitants to its population by 2040, according to SA Tomorrow, the city’s initiative for economic development and long term planning.

“Our goal has always been to provide safe, reliable, environmentally friendly services to Greater San Antonio,” LeeRoy Perez, Senior Director, Substation and Transmission, for CPS Energy, said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped us from making sure our fast-growing city and our customers in our service area, both inside and outside the San Antonio city limits, have the services they need.”