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  • 10.14.09

The Tres Amigas Project: America’s Renewable Energy Hub?

Sure, installing solar and wind power is easy enough, but it’s difficult to transport alternative energy from its sources–usually rural locations–to the cities that need it. That’s where the Tres Amigas Project, announced today by New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, comes in.

Tres Amigas Project

Sure, installing solar and wind power is easy enough, but it’s difficult to transport alternative energy from its sources–usually rural locations–to the cities that need it. That’s where the Tres Amigas Project, announced today by New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, comes in.

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If built, the Tres Amigas substation will act as an energy hub, connecting the Eastern, Western, and Texas power grids. So if the Texas grid has excess wind energy and the Eastern grid is low on power, Tres Amigas could switch over the electricity to Texas operators. It’s a useful trick–most solar and wind power is produced in the middle of the country, while coastal cities require the most energy.

The Clovis, New Mexico-based project is ambitious, to say the least. The 22-square-mile substation will consist of three high-voltage converters that connect up to 5,000 megawatts of electricity from grid to grid. Tres Amigas will act as a sort of power broker by selling electricity between the grids.

But this is all still hypothetical. The project, which could cost $1 billion and take up to five years to complete, is in the early planning stages.

In the long term, Midwest and Eastern states can also look forward to plentiful wind power from the Green Power Express, a 3,000 mile wind energy superhighway scheduled to be completed by 2020.

[Via the Wall Street Journal]

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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