New Mexico Makes Plan to Ramp Up Renewable Energy Exports With Tres Amigas

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A report from a 26 member task force, appointed by outgoing New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, offers pointers on how to boost state independence with a major renewable energy transmission expansion, capitalizing on the Tres Amigas super station. The report spells out ten steps New Mexico can take to expand the grid to make it possible to export renewable energy.

“We have a renewable energy potential around 27,000 MW, the second-best solar resource in the nation, and a wind resource in the top 10 of states, but are unable to fully develop that potential because we do not have the transmission infrastructure to get the renewable energy from its point of generation to the grid,” Jim Noel, Secretary of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department told Energy Prospects West.

One recommendation is to make the state’s Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) an independent transmission planning authority for all lines greater than 240 KV, to make it easier for it to assert eminent domain authority, and to increase its funding to at least $1 million a year. A five cents per megawatt charge would fund the change.

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) also produced findings for the study, but fell short. The task force found it not broad enough, by failing to account for the markets North or East. That plan would export less too; a mere 5,200 MW of renewable energy.

Nor did LANL consider the Tres Amigas project, or that forming a Smart Grid-enabled network could move renewable energy all over the country. “There’s a market for wind from New Mexico to Texas and Oklahoma,” said David Stidham, Tres Amigas COO.

Tres Amigas, under review in New Mexico now, and slated to go online in 2014, is a proposed transmission super station centrally located where the three major US grids could be connected, at Clovis, a mile from the Texas border.

It is by far is the most ambitious renewable energy transmission project to date, nationwide. It would interconnect the country’s three primary power grids with high-capacity AC/DC voltage source converters and could be expanded to handle up to 30 Gigawatts of power.

Image: Dave Clark
Susan Kraemer@Twitter

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