Tres Amigas delays groundbreaking

Groundbreaking for the Tres Amigas superstation, which had been expected to take place in late July, has been delayed until late August or early September to allow backers time to raise the needed funds.

Company officials engaged two New York financial institutions last week in their efforts to raise $500m in construction financing, a Tres Amigas spokesperson told TransmissionHub on June 25. The company reached the agreements about a month later than originally anticipated, which has put the project “in a time crunch.”

“We have a deadline of Aug. 15 to raise the funds,” the spokesperson said.

Nonetheless, officials are confident they’ll meet the deadline and have a late summer or early fall groundbreaking, according to the spokesperson.

“It will be the culmination of a variety of efforts,” the spokesperson said, noting that interconnection agreements have been negotiated and feasibility studies are underway.

In late 2011, the company raised $15m in initial venture capital, including $12m from Mitsui & Co., which obtained an equity position for its investment and will actively participate in the project.

The Tres Amigas project will use a variety of “state-of-the-art technologies” to connect the Eastern, Western, and Texas interconnection through a DC hub that can regulate the direction and level of power flows between the grids.

“We’re also setting up our balancing authority and a power exchange with it,” Phil Harris, Tres Amigas’ chair, president and CEO told TransmissionHub in a December 2011 interview. “We’re putting in firming so that solar and wind can be firmed with natural gas or batteries. We’re going to be filing a storage tariff, so we’re building something that’s the complete package for the 21st century that doesn’t really exist yet, that has everything in total in one place.”

The Tres Amigas development, located on a 22-square-mile site near Clovis, N.M., will include a network of underground superconductor pipelines and AC/DC converters capable of transmitting energy and balancing power loads between the Eastern, Western, and Texas Interconnections.

It will also “allow customers to purchase a reliable portfolio of power with the largest possible component of solar and wind power,” providing a clearinghouse through which states can obtain energy generated by renewable resources to meet renewable portfolio standard requirements, Harris said.

The $1.5bn project will be built in stages. The first phase of construction, scheduled to begin this year, will occupy 200 acres. Commercial operations are scheduled for 2015, with the initial power transfer capacity of 750 MW between the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and Public Service of New Mexico. The second and third phases will be connections between the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and SPP.