Wind power RFP processes* are common enough these days, typically driven by renewable energy mandates placed on utilities. A recent wind power RFP announcement out of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is different. A new company, Chamisa Energy, has initiated an RFP seeking wind power to pair up with a planned compressed-air energy storage (CAES) plant to be developed in Swisher County, Texas. Chamisa has partnered with Dresser-Rand and intends to use their SMARTCAES technology, which it claims can “provide a wide array of electrical services: peaking, intermediate, base load, tolling and ancillary services.”
The RFP says that the CAES project may connect to the ERCOT CREZ lines that will be crossing Swisher County, or it may connect to Xcel’s system in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), or it may connect to both ERCOT and SPP! This last option would put Chamisa in the interesting position of being able to arbitrage some price differences between the two power markets. (It may raise some of the same jurisdictional barriers that Tres Amigas is facing with its proposed three-way power system interconnection, planned for Clovis, New Mexico. ADDED: But a few existing power plants in Texas are dually connected between ERCOT and utilities in the Eastern Interconnection, so the issue appears manageable.)
The relationship between Chamisa’s CAES project and the Tres Amigas interconnection is interesting. Both companies are headquartered in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The proposed projects are about 90 miles apart, one at the eastern edge of New Mexico and the other directly east, in the middle of the Texas panhandle. Chamisa proposes an energy storage project that may link the two regional power systems; Tres Amigas proposes to build a link for three regional power systems but would have an energy storage component, too. Both aim to facilitate the accommodation of intermittent power resources to the grid by providing storage and other grid reliability services.
Not clear that the business of accommodating intermittent power is big enough for both of them, but maybe that is just “not yet big enough.” Many wind projects are under development in the region, and just waiting for a little more clarity on when and where transmission enhancements will be showing up.
* RFP = “request for proposals”, a common process by which one company invites others to offer to become suppliers.