Starwood Energy and TS Conductor Launch Joint Venture to Triple Power Line Capacity and Avoid New Transmission Barriers
Launched private equity firm Starwood Energy Group Global and startup TS Conductor Corp. a $100 million joint venture build highly efficient transmission lines with no upfront costs, the companies said Thursday.
The joint venture – Gridline Finance InvestCo – would be paid to replace old power lines or build new ones thanks to cost savings achieved through the use of TS Conductor’s advanced wire technology, which can reduce line losses by 50 % and increase the transmission capacity three times compared to standard transmission lines. , Jason Huang, CEO of TS Conductor, said in an interview on Thursday.
Rewiring existing transmission infrastructure with advanced wireline technology could rapidly increase the capacity of the US transmission system, according to Liza Roseau, research director for low-carbon technology policy at the Niskanen Center. “You can bypass a ton of regulatory processes because you don’t really have an impact on the things that [utility] the marshals want to have control and you can get up to twice the capacity in that same right of way,” Reed said Friday.
Overview of the dive:
Gridline Finance’s announcement comes as federal, state and local governments, as well as businesses, push to add more emissions-free capacity across the United States.
One of the main obstacles to this effort is the lack of regional transmission lines to bring electricity from distant wind and solar farms to where the electricity would be used. There are also transmission bottlenecks across the country that prevent electricity from flowing to where it is needed.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has proposed to reform its regional transmission planning rules and grid interconnection requirements. But, since major transmission lines often take five to 10 years to plan and build, it’s unlikely that FERC’s efforts will soon lead to new power lines.
TS Conductor aims to fill that void with powerlines featuring aluminum-wrapped carbon composite cores. They are stronger, lighter and more efficient than standard aluminum conductor steel reinforced, or ACSR, lines that have been in use since the early 1900s, according to Huang.
These attributes mean that transmission lines using TS Conductor’s technology require fewer and lower transmission towers, reducing the overall capital costs of a project, despite the fact that the company’s conductors cost more expensive than ACSR lines, Huang said. TS Conductor’s lines can be installed using the same equipment and practices that linemen use for ACSR lines, he noted.
Gridline Finance adopts a business model commonly used by energy service companies installing energy efficiency measures in buildings. The company would be paid from the savings generated by its projects, avoiding up-front utility payments.
According to Energy Information Administration.
Halving those losses means utilities wouldn’t need to buy or generate as much electricity, savings that could pay for Gridline Finance’s projects in about 10 to 15 years, according to Huang.
“They got their resilience, reliability and ability to accommodate renewable power generation in one place,” Huang said. “And they have savings to enjoy for the life of the project.”
TS Conductor has a manufacturing facility in California that can make 5,000 miles of wire per year and has a contract with a facility in China for 3,000 miles per year, according to Huang. The company plans to open a larger plant on the East Coast, he said.
TS Conductor has been involved in two utility projects. In, Montana-Dakota Public Services replaced a 60 mile transmission line. The 230 kV project was 40 percent cheaper than an ACSR line and was built a year ahead of schedule, according to Huang.
Basin Electric Power Cooperative is using TS Conductor’s cable in a 26.5-mile, $57.4 million project being built in response to load growth in northwest North Dakota. The project should be operational by the end of the year.
One of the challenges TS Conductor faces is getting investor-owned utilities to realize their profits from their investments in their systems, according to Huang. Regulators should give utilities a profit on some of the efficiency savings they realize from projects such as those using TS Conductor’s technology, he said.
The The Expanded Inflation Reduction Act the Department of Energy’s loan program office’s lending capacity of $250 billion, which could benefit TS Conductor, according to Huang. Some of the domestic manufacturing incentives provided by law could also help the company, he said.
Replacing a quarter of transmission lines reaching end of life over the next decade with advanced conductors would save at least $140 billion and could support the addition of at least 27 GW of generation renewable per year, according to a March report prepared by Grid Strategies.