This article comes from SNL and is authored by Marcy Crane
FERC on April 9 signed off on an agreement among Tres Amigas LLC, the Southwestern Public Service Co. and the Southwest Power Pool Inc. that will let the Tres Amigas “superstation” interconnect with Southwestern’s transmission system.
The commission’s acceptance of the interconnection agreement (ER13-912) is the latest milestone reached by Tres Amigas in its effort to develop a new facility that will connect the Western Interconnection, the Eastern Interconnection and the transmission system controlled by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc.
The agreement addresses the first phase of the Tres Amigas project, which will consist of a 750-MW, two-node intertie between the Western and Eastern Interconnections through the transmission systems of the Public Service Co. of New Mexico and Southwestern, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc. Under the agreement, Southwestern will expand its existing Eddy County substation at Tres Amigas’ expense and Tres Amigas will construct a 73-mile, 345-kV tie line and other equipment to provide a 750-MW intertie with Southwestern.
Tres Amigas already has received FERC’s approval of an interconnection agreement (ER12-2424) with PNM, a subsidiary of PNM Resources Inc.
The company’s website maintains that the focus of the project is “to help the country achieve its renewable energy goals and facilitate the smooth, reliable and efficient transfer of green power from region to region.”
Noting that the nation’s three interconnections largely “operate as islands” and that renewable energy developers “are facing increasing difficulties in getting sufficient access to the transmission assets required to take their power to market,” Tres Amigas said its goal is to “break these bottlenecks” by offering “gigawatts of power transmission capability.”
Tres Amigas COO David Stidham told SNL Energy that the company is in the process of completing its contract preparations with construction firms for the erection of the buildings, voltage source converters and transmission lines associated with the project. Once those contracts are in place, he said, Tres Amigas will “finalize design and order the equipment,” and expects to begin construction “sometime this summer.”
“Our big remaining obstacle is obtaining the rights of way for the transmission line,” Stidham said, noting that Tres Amigas has secured approximately 40% of the rights it needs.
Stidham explained that because the company will not be publicly traded and will not have ratepayers, the project will not be regulated by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and therefore does not need that agency’s approval. He also said the company is negotiating with several customers interested in taking on an “anchor tenant” role, but stressed that entering into such an arrangement “is not necessary for financing” and that the company intends to wait until the facility’s go-live date is closer before completing any such agreements. Commercial operation of the facility is expected to begin sometime in the summer of 2016.
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