On April 1st, Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG) will host its 10th Regional Clean Energy Summit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Southwest is a prime area for renewable energy development, with Arizona and New Mexico both ranked very highly in solar and wind potential. Pair that with relatively low demand, and the need for high-voltage transmission to move power to markets and load centers is great.
Recent transmission projects such as SunZia, the Tres Amigas Superstation, Lucky Corridor and Clean Line Energy Centennial West are all working to integrate the rich clean energy resources of the region with power markets. Speakers and panelists such as Sen. Martin Heinrich, former FERC Commissioner Suedeen Kelly, and New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Chair Karen Montoya will explore the issues at play, challenges and opportunities for the region, including:
- Will inter-regional transmission usher in a national clean energy grid and if so, do we want one?
A major impediment to developing, delivering, and balancing the nation’s best and most abundant renewable resources is the lack of transmission capacity to move electricity between balancing authorities, planning regions, regional transmission organizations (RTOs), and interconnections. New Mexico is home to rich wind and solar resources and also sits at the intersection of the nation’s three major interconnections, making it an ideal place to examine this potential.
- Is transmission a good investment for reliability, resource, and economic development?
Transmission supports wind and solar development, stabilizes electricity prices for all customers, and provides reliable and affordable power to major industries, including agriculture, information technology, manufacturing, and energy. Numerous transmission proposals in various stages of development and approval provide models renewable resources in New Mexico and the Southwest.
- Are transmission expansions and upgrades compatible with both small and large scale clean energy?
States across the region and the country are struggling to adapt longstanding policies and regulations to rapid changes in distributed energy technologies, notably steep drops in the cost of residential solar PV panels, energy efficiency, smart controls, and energy storage. New approaches are emerging that recognize and value the benefits of both the grid and distributed generation, and allow both to move forward without harming each other.
- Does transmission have a role in achieving environmental goals?
EPA’s regional haze rule and its proposed Clean Power Plan to regulate carbon emissions are ushering in a rapid transition away from a predominantly coal-powered generation fleet to one powered by much higher shares of renewables and natural gas. This panel will highlight the potential role of transmission, renewables, and other clean energy resources in achieving near and long term environmental goals in a timely and cost effective manner.
ACEG’s Southwest Clean Energy Transmission Summit will be held April 1st at the University of New Mexico Science & Technology Park in Albuquerque. More details and registration can be found here.