There’s been a lot of news in the past week on the Tres Amigas power station which is currently proposed to be built in New Mexico. This article here in the Clovis News Journal talks about the details of the power station and what it potentially means to America, as well as to Green Electricity.
I think I’ve discussed it before, but we’ll go over the details here again really quickly. Basically, the US is separated by three distinct power grids; East, West, and Texas. And right now, the three separate grids aren’t really compatible with each other. So when one grid has surplus electricity, they can’t send it to another grid where there might be a shortage. So Texas can’t send electricity to Arizona if there were a reason. Well, this Tres Amigas plan in New Mexico will fix that, essentially allowing the entire US electric Grid to work together.
The biggest impact on this is in the world of Green Energy. Currently, much of the Texas electricity from Wind or Solar power has a shelf life. What we don’t use when it’s manufactured expires because the batteries that store that energy still aren’t efficient. So Texas has oodles of green energy that goes to waste because we don’t use it all, and because we can’t ship it elsewhere. The Tres Amigas plant will allow Texas to send this energy to other areas of the country. Basically, the ability to ship the electricity all over the country is seen as a tipping point for investors looking to get entry into the green energy market and business. So the construction of this plant should elevate investment into and construction of green energy into the next atmosphere.
So what still stands in the way? Texas being Texas, well, we value our independence. Part of this deal is that federal regulation and oversight would have to exist over the plant, in part to regulate the price of electricity throughout the country. Well, this doesn’t sit to well with Texas and ERCOT (Electricity Reliability Council of Texas), who wants to have the right to regulate our own prices in our own state. And because we’re the largest producer of green energy in the country, we have quite a bit of leverage in this situation. This article in Newseek says that, however, for the time being, it looks like Texas is going to get their way and retain the ability to set prices withing our own market, at least for the time being. But this paves the way for the Tres Amigas plant possibly as early as 2013.
What does this mean for customers in Texas in the near future? It’s a long time in the future, and even though Texas has retained the ability to set their own rates, the Tres Amigas system would likely result in lower prices, both in Texas, as well as the rest of the United States.