Tres Amigas truncates transmission tie

Dive Brief:

  • Tres Amigas LLC has downsized a proposed $1.6 billion transmission link, and now says a smaller version of the project will include a 200 MW transmission link as opposed to 750 MW. The pricetag has fallen to $200 million.
  • New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn issued a statement this week saying the project relinquished its lease of more than 14,000 acres of state lands because it "failed to meet certain benchmarks and abandoned their plan."
  • However, Tres Amigas Chief Financial Officer Russ Stidolph told E&E News that the project is still alive, but shortened. It will now connect the Eastern and Western U.S. power grids, but will not include a link to Texas markets.

Dive Insight:

Tres Amigas signed a lease in 2010, and had planned to be moving renewable power to demand centers within five years. But now the project has been scaled back, and company officials say they are not close to securing financing.

The company has not posted a statement to its website, but instead is hosting a copy of an E&E story on the project's new direction. In it, CFO Stidolph told the news outlet, "I think we were a little ambitious a few years ago and we were trying to build a much larger project, which made it a little bit more difficult to get it done. We've scaled it back."

Stidolph also said that project financing is not imminent. While shoring up funding will likely take longer than six months, he said within a year to 18 months it should be possible.

The original project called for a high-voltage direct current linkage between the three segments of the U.S. grid — the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas—and would allow delivery of abundant wind and solar generation in the West to load centers across the country.

Funding has been an ongoing issue for the project, however. 

In 2015 federal regulators allowed Xcel subsidiary Southwestern Public Service to terminate an agreement with Tres Amigas, after the company did not meet payment agreements and was in default on scheduled milestones. 

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Filed Under: Transmission & Distribution
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