The first major electricity transmission project in decades is nearing completion in Acadiana, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta announced this weekend.

“Completion of this project will improve efficiency of delivery of electricity to ratepayers and hopefully end the threat of blackouts and interruption of electrical service during peak demand periods,” Skrmetta said.

In 2009 the Louisiana Public Service Commission approved a $193 million plan to develop the new transmission line that would be developed in a cooperative project between Cleco, Entergy and Lafayette Utilities System. Completion of the project is now anticipated by June 2012.

“When the LPSC voted to approve this project we required that it be completed on schedule and within budget parameters,” Skrmetta said. “The utilities acted responsibly and got the job done.”

The transmission project is comprised of more than 90 miles of new transmission lines and substation system improvements. The area affected by the transmission grid upgrades is bounded by U.S. 190 on the north, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, Jennings on the west and the Atchafalaya Basin on the east.

“With the completion of the Acadiana Load Pocket Transmission project, the Lafayette region will see the threat of rolling blackouts become a thing of the past,” Skrmetta said. “Stability of electrical service is now more certain in the region.”

The transmission project was approved to alleviate strained power resources that have manifested themselves in recent years. A growing population in the region required the project be built to provide reliability to the system.

“More robust transmission systems were needed to carry the greater amount of electricity demanded by the region,” said Skrmetta.

“New transmission projects have not occurred that often,” Skrmetta added. “With a look to the future the LPSC has focused on long-term planning through its transmission docket and its use of an Independent Coordinator of Transmission. The LPSC has now also taken the first step to regional transmission planning and I have great hopes for the future benefits to the consumers of Louisiana.”