MCALLEN, Texas – Supply chain issues could result in the Rio Grande Valley facing a shortage of electricity in the years ahead, McAllen Economic Development Corporation President Keith Patridge has warned.
Speaking at a McAllen EDC board meeting last week, Patridge said he recently met with Lee Jones, community affairs manager of American Electric Power (AEP), and Kip Fox, president of Electric Transmission Texas (ETT).
ETT is a joint venture between AEP and Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company. ETT acquires, constructs, owns and operate transmission facilities within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. According to the ETT website, the company’s capital investment has over $3 billion in transmission assets.
“We had the opportunity to meet with Lee Jones from AEP and the company that builds their high tension power lines, Kip Fox from ETT. They build the power lines,” Patridge (pictured above) said.
“The Valley is using up power capacity very, very quickly with our growth. And so they (AEP) are looking at bringing more power lines into the Valley. They have 138,000 lines that they’re looking at moving into the Valley. But what’s important or is interesting is it is going to be 2027 because they can’t get the towers and they can’t get the equipment and the wire for building those power lines.”
Patridge continued: “So, between now and 2027 we really may run into a tight power situation. So, those are things that are being brought up by the supply chain that you read about or you hear about on the news all the time. Well, that’s real because they’re having to bring their wire in from India and the towers in from India. And right now they said that the supplier of the towers has a four-year backlog.”
Patridge said the shortage of towers and wire is not only going to impact South Texas. “It is going to impact the whole state and probably the whole country,” he warned.
In response to the meeting with AEP and ETT, Patridge has sent a letter to Congressman Vicente Gonzalez.
“Right now, if you remember, Congress just passed a bill supporting bringing semiconductor manufacturing back to the U.S. Well, I proposed to him and I sent him a white paper real quick on it, that we need to also look at other infrastructure issues like power, so that we can start bringing manufacturing back on simple things like towers, simple things like the components that go into power lines, transmission lines, and electric.”
What is the point of the Valley investing in solar and wind farms, Patridge asked, if the energy generated cannot be connected to the electric grid.
“There are a lot of solar farms and wind farms in our area. But if they can’t connect them to the grid, it’s not going to do much good for us. So that’s where these transmission lines become a real big issue,” he explained.
Patridge added: “So, it’s something that we need to keep in mind: that a lot of times it’s not that sexy stuff that we talk about (that is important), but it is really just the nuts and bolts of putting infrastructure in that drives everything else. And we really need to work on that, I think. So, we’ll see where that goes. But I did propose to Congressman Gonzalez that they start looking at maybe passing some more legislation that’s focused on that infrastructure, manufacturing or component manufacturing as well.”
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