By Alisa Boswell
CMI staff writer
The president of Tres Amigas told Pure Energy Expo attendees Tuesday that although the project’s groundbreaking date was moved back numerous times, the company has made great strides with the project in 2013.
“Like any development, every day gets closer,” David Stidham said of this year’s progress. “We still have a completion date of 2016.”
The superstation, to be built 10 to 15 miles northeast of Clovis, will serve as a power highway for wind farms and other power plants to circulate their electricity between the nation’s three power grids.
In a presentation that highlighted the first day of the two-day expo at the Clovis Civic center, Stidham highlighted the accomplishments made throughout the year:
• Interconnection agreement with Xcel Energy
• Interconnection agreement with PNM
• Selecting a general contractor
• Selecting a transmission contractor
• Selecting a civil contractor
Stidham said the main factors pushing back the ground breaking date were collecting all of the financing and putting investors’ minds at ease with any uncertainties.
“The financial groups do not like uncertainty,” Stidham said. “They want to know exactly who’s building it, when, and how much it will cost. We’ve had to squash those uncertainties.”
Stidham said the following are the steps left for Tres Amigas to take regarding the project:
• Complete anchor/tenant negotiations
• Complete financing
• Finalize transmission line right of way procurement
• Release contractors for the control center, civil works and 100,00 miles of transmission lines
Stidham said the company now has half of the $550 million to begin the project and expects to have the other half by the first of the year.
He said Wednesday he would be flying to New York to meet with board members to discuss financing deals, company policies to be put into place, and staffing for the superstation and the administrative headquarters in Albuquerque.
He said the new estimated ground breaking date for the local superstation is the first quarter of 2014.
“When you’re at the finish line, you don’t want to rush things,” Stidham said.
When asked whether the Texas electrical grid, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) would be on board with the project, Stidham said ERCOT is now on board with the superstation.
“We can act as a sponge, pulling power from ERCOT to take to other systems,” Stidham said. “They see us as an energy economic boost now that we’ve solved certain problems.”
BayWa r.e. CEO Florian Zerhusen also attended the expo to talk about the Brahms Wind project (formerly Broadview) being built near Grady.
When asked if his company would consider doing business with Tres Amigas, Zerhusen said they absolutely would.
“We’re very closely looking at that project, and are we interested? I’d say yes, we are very interested,” he said. “I think it (investing) is way ahead of us, but I think we will definitely be interested in investing at some point.”