South Texas Electric Cooperative Inc. and Karnes Electric Cooperative Inc. are building a new substation in Sunniland, at the intersection of FM 2049 and I-37 in northern Live Oak County, and STEC plans to build two new generating stations.
“We needed additional voltage support because of the increased load,” said Leroy Skloss, general manager of KEC.
The co-op is a retailer of electricity to 12 counties, including Live Oak, McMullen, Frio, La Salle and Karnes counties, all major hubs of activity as a result of the Eagle Ford.
When asked if the co-op has had to put limits on growth, Skloss said “not yet.”
STEC is a generator and transmitter of electricity, and covers most of South Texas. It not only serves KEC, but also the Wharton County, Victoria, San Patricio, Nueces, Magic Valley and Medina electric cooperatives.
Originally, STEC did not see a need for new generating capacity until 2017 or 2018. Now, General Manager Mike Packard said, “Within two years we’re going to be building two power plants.”
While the new substation will “provide increased reliability for existing members, a lot of demand has come into the area,” he said.
“Two years ago this was a hush-hush project in the oil and gas industry,” Packard said of the Eagle Ford. “It’s now something that’s very fluid. The size and number of (electric) loads is changing weekly. It’s very difficult us to have a plan.”
STEC plans to picks sites for the two new power plants, which will be fired by natural gas, within a month. Ideally, Packard said, they will be built close to where the growth in demand is. Access to transmission lines and fuel supply will play a big role in siting the plants.
The plants will be 200 megawatts each, which Packard said are medium-sized generating stations.