The $600 million project, which is crucial for increasing the penetration of US wind energy, would interconnect America’s three separate electricity grids for the first time. It is set to be completed in 2014.
This first-of-its-kind power transmission hub is to be sited in Clovis, near the Texas Panhandle, where transmission access is lacking but wind projects are burgeoning. The grids to be linked are the eastern (Southwest Power Pool), western (Western Electricity Coordinating Council) and Texas (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) interconnections.
Tres Amigas, which is being built in New Mexico by American Superconductor (AMSC), would allow the transfer of thousands of megawatts of power between the three asynchronous grids.
However, doubts have been raised about its political and technological practicality. On challenge will be to integrate the Texas Ercot grid, which effectively operates independently from the rest of the US. Its regulators are reluctant to strike power-sharing agreements with neighbouring states.