As the poet Bob Dylan said, “the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,” a quote that is "impenetrably ambiguous: either the answer is so obvious it is right in your face, or the answer is as intangible as the wind" as described by Mick Gold in his 2002 Judas! Magazine article, "Life & Life Only: Dylan at 60."
As we witness daily in Quay County and eastern New Mexico, we have a lot of wind. That being said, the question then becomes how to take that renewable resource to the consumer. For over two years landowner associations have been formed in the state to learn more about renewable resources, particularly wind and solar, and come together to discuss development and transmission of these resources.
A coalition of these associations, CRELA (Coalition of Renewable Energy Landowner Associations), met Thursday in Tucumcari to discuss the location of transmission lines for renewable resources. CRELA is an association of 22 eligible landowner associations in eastern New Mexico tasked to be an advocate for these landowners in renewable energy. With transmission lines also comes the development of more wind and solar farms.
Transmission line corridors have already been proposed and an updated map of the proposed corridors will be posted on the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority website, www.nmreta.org, by Oct. 8 to allow time for interested parties to comment on the proposed line. At this time there is a line proposed for the eastern side of Quay County. CRELA is working to get their corridor map coordinated with other proposed corridor maps throughout the state with the goal of getting the maximum amount of energy from New Mexico to the three nationwide grids for distribution.
Paul Stout, CRELA chairman, told the group about a proposed military Low Altitude Tactical Navigation area proposed for most of the northern part of New Mexico and the southern part of Colorado.
According to information from Cannon Air Force Base this LATN area would accomplish unique Special Operations Forces mobility training requirements. It could also be detrimental to proposed renewable energy development because it could involve taking land for the training area. Boyd Burchard of CRELA said the group and landowners should be proactive in developing wind energy before LATN claims the area for its own.
After a discussion about the makeup of the CRELA board and executive committee the group heard a presentation by David C. Stidham, senior vice president and chief operating officer of TresAmigas, builders of the electricity superstation south of Clovis. According to Stidham, the superstation site is in close proximity to current and planned transmission lines for all three United States power grids, providing both strategic and operational advantages.
Stidham told a group of community leaders, landowners and Mesalands Community College wind energy students how TresAmigas is ideally situated to transfer power between the Eastern, Western and Texas power grids as needed. Because wind and solar energy are intermittent by nature, the TresAmigas superstation will have the ability to take the power, store it if necessary, and transmit it to where it is needed to encourage Americans to invest in clean, renewable energy.
According to Stidham, even though the superstation will be located south of Clovis Tucumcari needs to market itself as a support to the industry infrastructure. He said wind energy companies will be looking for local resources for everything from manpower and housing to gravel and concrete. Once the transmission situation is firmed up by the superstation, the wind and solar farms will locate in the area.
But, Stidham cautioned landowners, even though the answer might be obviously blowing in the wind, as Gold said, they must do some of the legwork themselves to encourage the companies to locate here. Landowners and their associations need to be doing their own wind monitoring and testing and market themselves to the various wind energy companies and utilities.
Construction of TresAmigas is slated to begin in November or December 2011, Stidham said. Right now they are working on reliability studies for the power companies and rate tariffs have been approved.