By Alisa Boswell
CMI staff writer
Other topics discussed Tuesday at the 2013 Pure Energy Expo:
• Sweetwater, Texas, mayor and director of the Texas Wind Energy Clearinghouse Greg Wortham gave a presentation on wind energy in Texas and the U.S., saying that Texas is nation’s leader in wind energy with most of its wind energy generated in West Texas.
Wortham said the U.S. has 60,000 megawatts of wind energy, with 12, 214 megawatts of that in Texas. Of the Texas total, 2,500 megawatts are generated in located in Nolan County, in which Sweetwater is the county seat.
He said although Texas is the leader in wind energy, other states have been quickly growing in the industry in the last few years.
“Illinois was non-existent with wind (energy) a few years ago,” Wortham said. “(And) Oklahoma has climbed the last few years.”
He said Illinois now produces 3,568 megawatts of wind energy and Oklahoma 3,134 megawatts.
Wortham said there is only more wind energy development to come in the West Texas and panhandle regions with the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) transmission lines being only two months away from completion.
• Robert Rhodes, director of the Training and Outreach Center at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, talked about the college’s energy training program, which is now using three dimensional, virtual reality software, the same used in video games, to train students for the energy workforce.
“It takes about five minutes to suspend reality, so in five minutes, I can start training you on that energy site,” Rhodes said as he talked about the software being used to place students in specific scenarios on energy job sites, such as wind farms and oil rigs.
“We are a work in progress,” he said of the program. “(But) using the right tools and training that are out there (is important). We’ve got to quit training them to know right and start training them to do right.”
• Jeremy Turner, of the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA), talked about projects the organization is trying to make happen in New Mexico.
Turner said RETA is one of only eight state-level transmission authorities that exist and one of only three that are currently active.
He said the organization is currently working on an independent study, in partnership with Los Alamos National Laboratory, that evaluates state-wide transmission concepts, their economic benefits and cost allocation.
Turner said the study is to determine which transmission and other energy projects would be best to build out the New Mexico grid to export 5,200 megawatts of renewable energy per hour to the west.
“If we can do these (transmission) projects, it strengthens New Mexico’s grid,” Turner said. “(And a majority of that power is going to come out of eastern New Mexico.”
He said the study may not need to be completed now that Tres Amigas is a factor that could further expand New Mexico renewables.
Turner said four projects currently being pursued by RETA are the following:
• High Lonesome Mesa, a 100-megawatt wind farm in Torrance County
• Blue Mesa Energy, a 150-megawatt wind farm near Wheatland
• Lucky Corridor LLC, a transmission line project from Gladstone to Taos
• Western Spirit Clean Line, a $2.5 billion transmission line project that would stretch across 200 miles of central New Mexico and have a 1,500-megawatt capacity. He said this project is expected to be in service in 2017 to 2018.