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Transmission key to renewable power in New Mexico

  • 12 years ago (2009-12-02)
  • David Flin
North America 913 Renewables 702

The state of has huge potential to generate electricity from renewable sources, but limited transmission capability to deliver that power to customers, according to a report from the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority.

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The state Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) has presented its first transmission report to an interim legislative committee. The report covers factors including existing transmission lines, barriers to building additional lines, and hot spots for electricity generation using wind, solar radiation and geothermal sources.

Representative Jose Campos said: “The issue is transmission. If we don’t have any more transmission, there will be no more renewable projects in the state of , and that is critical for our future. It is a multibillion dollar opportunity.” He said that the state would lose out to other states if it doesn’t do something in the next 3-4 years.

Greg Miller, the Lead Director of Engineering and Operations for Public Service Company of New Mexico, the state’s largest utility, said that RETA’s report goes a long way to spell out some of the barriers utilities and some others have when it comes to transmission. He said that those include cumbersome federal procedures for connecting to the grid and a general lack of transmission lines for exporting electricity from . “The existing transmission systems are fully utilised. They were built for a different purpose, not for adding on renewable generation on top of the transport of energy that’s already in play.”

has developed standards that require utilities to provide to their customers a specific amount of electricity that is generated by renewable sources. Currently, the state’s renewable portfolio standard calls for 6 per cent of electricity to come from renewable sources. This will increase to 20 per cent by 2020.

PNM officials said there's more than 10,000 megawatts of potential renewable energy electricity generation in the queue in , far more than what PNM and other utilities would need to meet state standards. If power purchase agreements were signed and generation projects were developed, that power could be exported to meet needs in and other states.