For this issue, I planned to write an article on superconductor electricity pipeline technology. After a bit of research, however, I decided to write about a unique merchant transmission project, Tres Amigas SuperStation, which will use the superconductor pipeline technology.
The SuperStation, which will be located in Clovis, N.M., is expected to be the nation’s first renewable energy market hub and will connect the three main U.S. power grids using superconducting cables, voltage source converters and batteries. It will be able to handle 5 GW of electricity initially and expand to 30 GW. You can learn more about it by reading the article on page 34.
I interviewed several people who are helping develop the project. I easily picked up on their excitement and expectation that Tres Amigas will open up a market for renewable energy that will excite and entice new entrants and investors. If and when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rules in favor of two recent Tres Amigas filings—one on rate structure and the other on allowing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to remain independent of FERC jurisdiction—the developers can attract the investors needed to make the $1 billion project a reality, they said.
ERCOT has always been independent, and Texas wants it to stay that way. It seems, however, that the economic benefits of being able to move its wind power to markets outside of ERCOT might outweigh any benefits of being outside FERC’s jurisdiction. Broader markets seem especially important in Texas, where developed wind energy has caused a lot of transmission congestion and has even led to negative prices in the ERCOT West zone.
I asked if access to new markets and revenue the state could acquire through these markets would be enough to entice ERCOT to give up its independence if FERC so ruled. Without hesitation, they said “no.” Therefore, the developers are hopeful and optimistic that FERC will realize the benefits of Tres Amigas and will allow ERCOT to remain independent. I hope so, too. Researching and writing this article convinced me that the nation will benefit if the three interconnections are linked and a broader market for heartland renewable energy is created. I look forward to FERC’s rulings in early February and to following this project. I will keep you updated.
Also, this issue’s cover and table of contents probably tipped you off to the fact that PowerGrid International magazine (originally Utility Automation magazine) turns 15 this year. You can read about the history of the magazine in Senior Editor Kathleen Davis’ article, beginning on page 20. I hope you enjoy the look back.
Editor in chief
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