Tres Amigas introduces concept of buried HVDC transmission network

Tres Amigas CEO and President Phillip Harris introduced on Aug. 28 the concept of a buried High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) electric transmission network for New Mexico. Citing references to the success of the Erie Canal in New York in 1815, Mr. Harris discussed the parallels to New Mexico today, including the scoffers, challenges and decisions a single state can make. Julia Frayer of London Economics discussed the economic value to the state that could occur should such a system be constructed.

The ambitious project could provide the opportunity for energy programs and resources in the Four Corners region to be connected not only to the West but to the Eastern and Texas Interconnections. Phase two of the project would connect southern New Mexico with a new HVDC connection from Eddy County to Tres Amigas at Clovis, N.M. Collectively the project is to be called “The New Mexico Express.”

“New Mexico is well recognized for its abundant renewable energy resources. However, those resources will remain undeveloped unless transmission can be built to carry that power to locations where it is needed. The New Mexico Express project could provide significant transmission capacity to accomplish that purpose, and accordingly could benefit the economy of our state in a substantial way,” said Former New Mexico U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, who served as Chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy Committee before retiring.

“The New Mexico Express project has the potential to supply America with an invaluable renewable and reliable energy capacity. The project’s ability to provide multiple source energy to our state, while also honoring New Mexico’s cultural, historical and economic interests, is truly exciting,” said New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce.

“Transmission infrastructure is crucial for building New Mexico’s renewable energy economy. We must diligently explore all possibilities for renewable energy transmission and invest in those that will benefit our state. The New Mexico Express has the potential to help us develop our state’s echo-rich renewable energy resources,” said New Mexico Congressman Ben Ray Lujan.

In the testimony, Harris cites the history and problems with constructing transmission in the state. “It must be recognized that New Mexico is a large state, with a small population base, with multiple jurisdictions over the approval and citing of transmission lines, so creative solutions must be found to break the impasse that is keeping New Mexico from gaining the economic benefits of its resources.” For example, in The New Mexico Express proposal, he proposes a user fee on every kWh transmitted that would be paid to the state so the state could directly benefit in the success of the transmission lines. Additionally, the project proposes to use buried HVDC transmission lines, saying the infrastructure and technology are now right for its use.

“The ultimate completion of these buried transmission lines will open many doors for the development and market outreach of the vast New Mexico energy resources,” said Harris. The Erie Canal enjoyed unprecedented support from the people in New York because it solved so many problems. At one time over 100,000 signatures were gathered to support it. For New Mexico to achieve the values from its resources, in an environmentally benign way, the state will also need to come together collectively and be united to achieve a solution that will not only benefit the state, but also illustrate to the rest of North America a better way to transmit clean electric energy.

About Tres Amigas, LLC

Tres Amigas, LLC is uniting the nation’s electric grid. Utilizing the latest advances in power grid technology, Tres Amigas is focused on providing the first common interconnection of America’s three power grids to help the country achieve its renewable energy goals and facilitate the smooth, reliable and efficient transfer of green power from region to region. Tres Amigas, LLC is a merchant transmission entity composed of electric utility industry operational, technology and thought leaders.