Until now, the country’s power grid has been divided into three unconnected chunks, making transnational transmission impossible, leading to huge regional mispricing. While California and New York suffered from brown outs and sky high prices, electricity was given away virtually for free in Texas.
A group of power companies is now proposing to build the $1 billion Tres Amigas superstation in Clovis, New Mexico that would connect all three grids. The plant would use advanced superconducting technology that will send five gigawatts of power down cables cooled at 300 degrees below zero. Construction is expected to begin this year and reach completion in 2014.
The facility would solve a major headache of alternative energy planners, and will no doubt accelerate development. It would allow the enormous wind farms on the drawing board in the Midwest to ship energy to the power hungry coasts. Ditto for the mega solar projects proposed in the Southwest deserts, and the big geothermal plants being built in Nevada.
With the Department of Energy having already sent tidal waves of government cash towards the sector, the timing couldn’t be better. With gasoline prices rapidly approaching $5 a gallon, some of these projects might now actually make some sense.