Tres Amigas Project Overview

Michael Giberson

The Texas Tribune offers an up-to-date overview of the Tres Amigas project. Here is the intro:

Texas has always operated its own energy grid, separate from the two other grids that span the rest of the nation. But a project quietly emerging in eastern New Mexico would curb that independence — and affect energy prices for Texas consumers in ways that remain much in dispute.

The $2 billion project could connect all three grids (eastern, western, and Texas) as soon as 2013. They would meet near Clovis, N.M., just west of the Texas border. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given a preliminary go-ahead to the proposal, known as Tres Amigas, which doubles as the name of the company running it. The federal commission’s chairman has praised it as a “prime example of the creativity and pioneering thinking that our country needs.”

But serious questions remain over whether the project would benefit Texas residents and businesses — whether electricity prices would rise or fall and whether the connections would allow other states to siphon off too much of Texas’ wind power.  (Links in source.)

I’m not convinced that “serious questions remain over whether the project would benefit Texas residents and businesses,” except for the Federal/State jurisdiction issue.  (Discussed here before.)  The general economic and reliability benefits from linking power systems are well demonstrated and not seriously questioned.

The article wraps up with a question to Tres Amigas CEO Phil Harris:

Asked if Tres Amigas would move forward if only two grids — eastern and western — signed up, Harris replied: “Yeah. That’s already proceeding.” Construction of that interconnection should begin next year. But he quickly added that his company was “extraordinarily confident” that Texans would reap economic value from the project. “If there’s no benefit,” he says, “obviously you wouldn’t want to do it.”