« Rep. Martin Heinrich Underlines Opposition to Extending Bush Tax Cuts to Wealthy, Support for Middle-Class Relief | Main | Stephen Jones: The Last Romantics »

Saturday, November 20, 2010

First NM Renewable Energy Transmission Authority Bonds Issued

Governor Bill Richardson and the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) Board of Directors announced yesterday that it has issued its first $50 million worth of bonds to upgrade New Mexico’s transmission system and foster clean energy growth.

The upgrade will bring 100 Megawatts of clean renewable wind energy across the Public Service Company of New Mexico’s lines from the High Lonesome Mesa Wind Farm located in Torrance County to the Arizona state line. The project is a collaborative effort with High Lonesome Mesa, LLC, a subsidiary of Edison Mission Energy.

“This project highlights New Mexico’s efforts to be the Clean Energy State by capitalizing on our renewable energy export opportunities,” Governor Richardson said in a written statement.

New Mexico is estimated to have 104 million megawatt hours per year (MWh/yr) of solar energy potential and 56 million MWh/yr of wind, ranking second and twelfth in the U.S. respectively.

“New Mexico’s abundant sunshine and windy plains -- as well as our proximity to fast growing western energy markets places us is in the sweet spot of renewable energy growth,” said Jim Noel, Secretary of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources and a RETA Board Member. “RETA is helping to create the system that will carry this clean energy to market.”

The High Lonesome Wind Farm is a 40-turbine facility and has been in operation since July 2009, but has been waiting for upgrades to operate at full capacity. The majority of the work has been completed with the remaining portions expected by the end of the year.

RETA is one of only eight transmission authorities in the country and is only the second to issue bonds. The debt will not be paid by New Mexico citizens; instead it will be paid for by the sale of power to Arizona.

“This first bond issuance is a significant milestone for RETA and represents the first step in fulfilling RETA's promise to harvest New Mexico's wealth of renewable resources for the benefit of all its' citizens," said Robert Busch, Board Chairman of RETA.

RETA was created in 2007 to plan and finance transmission lines to promote the development of renewable energy within New Mexico.

November 20, 2010 at 10:10 AM in Energy, Environment, Gov. Bill Richardson | Permalink


A 100MW (plus safety factors) transmission line that will on average carry 30MW. (wind: 30% capacity factor, single-axis tracking solar PV: 25% cf, fixed solar PV: 20% cf).

But because wind & solar require backup by dependable power sources, the real winner in the renewable energy sweepstakes are the natural gas producers, according to RFK Jr in this presentation to the Colorada Oil & Gas Assoc: http://theenergycollective.com/rodadams/47773/robert-f-kennedy-jr-tells-colorado-oil-and-gas-association-wind-and-solar-plants-are-

And we have plenty of supplies of NG, which should make Amory Lovins disciples really happy, as long as you ignore this: http://www.theecologist.org/trial_investigations/687515/us_natural_gas_drilling_boom_linked_to_pollution_and_social_strife.html

Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Dec 1, 2010 4:54:09 PM

So what's your suggestion Paul? Coal-fired power plants?

Posted by: AlicianA | Dec 1, 2010 5:57:47 PM

No, nuclear. I think every coal plant should be replaced by one. (USN ret, engineer-qualified on the Nimitz-class A4W plants, MSME)

Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Dec 1, 2010 8:58:29 PM

FYI, a few months ago I downloaded the hourly production data for the entire Denmark West windfarm output, for 4/21/09 to 4/20/10. The rated capacity was 3108 MW. The average hourly output over the 1 yr period was 636.1 MWh, or 20.00% capacity factor, with a standard deviation of 505.4 MWh. The maximum output for a 1 hour period, measured from 0:00 to 59:59, was 2876.2 MWh, while the minimum was 0.2 MWh.

Anyone who wants to have fun with Denmark's data can go here: http://www.energinet.dk/EN/El/The-wholesale-market/Download-of-market-data/Sider/default.aspx

Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Dec 1, 2010 11:57:47 PM

Oh I see, a nuke power pusher. I don't see how you can compare having a gas backup system on something with constructing nuke plants that 1) harm miners and pollute areas where uranium is mined and 2) create dangerous waste that has nowhere to go. Are you paid by the nuke industry?

Energy production by windfarms is also dependent on transmission systems and how much they can carry, as well as demand.

Posted by: AlicianA | Dec 2, 2010 9:27:45 AM

The basic problem is that wind & solar cannot provide baseload, so they cannot replace coal without FULLTIME backup. The typical backups are open-cycle gas turbines running at less than full load, so about 20% efficient. the result is that the vaunted emissions reductions are nearly negated by the backup power supply. (See Brave New Climate, noted below)

1) you cite mines that date from the 50's in NM, where the mine tailings were uncontrolled until 1980. The mines were poorly ventilated. Any poorly ventilated mine will have radon problems, not just a uranium mine. Not to mention the miners smoking cigarettes. Can you provide analyses from, say, Australia, which has currently operating mines? How about using thorium, which is far more plentiful than uranium?

2) The used fuel (not waste) is completely controlled, and reusable.

Suggested reading: nucleargreen.blogspot.com bravenewclimate.com
depletedcranium.com (especially the Feb 20, 2010 entry)

Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Dec 2, 2010 10:30:11 AM

Paul Lindsey, you are misguided. The key to renewable energy is in improved storage of energy, i.e. batteries. We are making great leaps in improving that technology so your statement that we need full time backup is incorrect.

If it were up to me I would nix the transmission lines and require each home and business to create their own green energy through the variety of ways that are available. There is absolutely no need for nuclear even if we had the trillions needed to implement it, make is safe, find a way to get rid of poisonous byproducts and site the plants.

Smoking cigarettes is what caused problems with uranium mining? Now I know you must be a nuke industry troll.

Posted by: Kevin | Dec 2, 2010 12:42:46 PM

"Smoking cigarettes is what caused problems with uranium mining? Now I know you must be a nuke industry troll."

I never said that smoking caused the lung cancer in uranium miners, but it certainly contributes to it. The primary cause is inadequate ventilation, leading to high concentrations of radon and radon daughter products. I am not seeing lung cancer claims by Australian miners, although I did find a claim that Polonium-210 was not being monitored strictly enough at an Australian mill.



Onsite or point-of-use energy generation is great, especially for solar water heating since the hot water can be stored. However, the utilites still have to maintain the lines and power geneation equipment, and be able to supply 100% of the demand when required. Batteries may work for individual homes, but a business? a factory? For the average, non-technical homeowner, batteries would need to be completely turn-key and zero maintenance. We are not there yet, and I don't see any evolutionary changes in battery tech. Improving residential heating, cooling, insulation efficiency will get more bang for the buck, but it will take a long time to replace/retrofit existing structures, especially mobile or manufactured homes.

"make it safe": Pls list your concerns. Pls do not list Chernobyl, because the RBMK design was an aberation. Yes, TMI occured, but there have been no proven injuries or deaths, despite what Harvey Wasserman et al claim. Do not make a claim that all radiation no matter how small is dangerous, unless you are ready to discuss natural background, cross-country plane flights, and medical scans.

"poisonous byproducts" Nuclear power is the only reliable, dispatchable energy source that contains its byproducts.

Once again, people need to go spend some time at bravenewclimate.com

Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Dec 2, 2010 2:21:29 PM

Here's an idea. Perhaps "Kevin", you should email Prof Barry Brooks, Foundation Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change and Director of Climate Science at The Environment Institute, University of Adelaide, and suggest that he is "misguided".

[email protected]

Careful, he warns that trolls will be diemvoweled. :-)

Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Dec 2, 2010 2:50:03 PM

There are other ways for businesses including factories to generate their own power based on heat retention and recycling and other methods. But then you know that.

I also notice you don't mention anything about increasing efficiency or conserving power. Your point of view is no doubt based on the idea that our overpopulated globe will function just fine with more massive population increases, more nations becoming power and consumer addicts and nothing being required to value energy at the price it really costs,.

You wrote, "However, the utilites still have to maintain the lines and power geneation equipment, and be able to supply 100% of the demand when required." No they don't. Many people live off the grid just fine. Go see an Earthship some time.

I hope you get to live right next to a nuke plant or work in a uranium mine so you can prove how safe it is. That's given that any will ever be built here considering the massive price tag. It's just plain silly. The subsidies alone would use up whatever cash or credit our government has.

Posted by: Kevin | Dec 2, 2010 5:29:55 PM

Like we have any factories left in America!

Posted by: Sean | Dec 2, 2010 5:33:31 PM

I'd like to step in here and thank Paul Lindsey for his provocative and enlightening contributions. In fact, many serious and knowledgeable environmentalists agree with him and those he cites. I'm not sure I do, but I have started reading some of the material he suggests and find it very interesting and hopeful.

I think we all need to keep an open mind about moving forward technologically.

Posted by: barb | Dec 2, 2010 5:42:16 PM

Thank you, Barb. It's better than being labeled a troll and misguided. Some people hear the words "nuclear power" and immediately think of bombs and godzilla. Interestingly, the Japanese (in general) do not. Be careful on nndair dkos diary; he does not suffer fools lightly.

Kevin brought up the subject of subsidies. I was pointed to this one a few days ago:
www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/subsidy2/pdf/execsum.pdf See pg 6, Table ES5.

Some people concentrate on the 2nd column from the right, the one with the total subsidy $ in millions. That number needs to be normalized by the MW produced (not rated capacity), which is what the righthand column does.
solar: 24.34 $/MW
wind: 23.37 $/MW
nuclear: 1.59 $/MW

NIRS et al like to throw around the number of $150B for the total nuclear subsidy, but as far as I can tell, they start counting in 1943 with the Manhattan project.

Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Dec 2, 2010 8:10:36 PM

I have no problem per se with wind & solar (PV and thermal), as long as real production numbers are used, not rated capacity, capacity factors are not overstated, and the energy system is looked at as a system, not in isolation. This article in Renewable Energy World, talks about the decline in wind installations and uses the phrase "continued lack of certainty surrounding U.S. energy policy", aka no national renewable energy standard that would require utilities to buy wind power.

I analyzed a residential solar PV installation here: http://www.topix.net/forum/city/san-miguel-nm/T78LLNQF2HMG3IPHL/post42 . The 30 yr payback might be even longer, because the 3.15 kW output might be DC, not AC, so there is an 85-90% derate going through the inverter.

LCPS almost bought into a plan to install 4,000 kW of solar panels and buy the power for 15 c/kWh for 10 years. According to the contractor's own powerpoint slides, the only reason this worked was that the LCPS payments only covered 30% of the cost. 30% came from Federal cash rebates and 40% came from selling the RECs and the NM solar tax rebate.

Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Dec 2, 2010 8:11:19 PM

I just realized that you must be the admin.

Here's another link:
uvdiv.blogspot.com The Capacity Factor Start here and follow the blog links. (warning: some are not AGW-friendly, but that does not necessarily mean that their math is wrong.)

Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Dec 2, 2010 8:20:23 PM

Kevin: you missed a couple of key sentences:

(1) " Improving residential heating, cooling, insulation efficiency will get more bang for the buck, but it will take a long time to replace/retrofit existing structures, especially mobile or manufactured homes." So yes, I know about efficiency or conserving power. The efficiency bit is what drives me nuts when people say that wind & solar can do it all. And yes, some factories can reuse their process heat, or burn non-conventional fuels, but, for example, can a fab?

(2) I have no problem living near a nuclear reactor. (go up to the 3rd entry ... I used to run a pair of them.) If a major goal is to reduce CO2 and the stack wastes from fossil-fueled plants, then you should read this: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste and nnadir's latest rant about coal ash.

Many people may live off the grid just fine, but do you really think MOST people want to. That idea of "reducing our footprint" got my gall when I read this: http://thegwpf.org/ipcc-news/1877-ipcc-official-climate-policy-is-redistributing-the-worlds-wealth.html showing that in at least one IPCC official's view, AGW is really about leveling the playing field.

Earthships look cute and low impact, but I don't think they'll pass code enforcement or planning in SF or NYC. Besides, if you took the entire population of NYC and put them in Earthships, I think you would a new definition of the word "sprawl".

Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Dec 2, 2010 8:37:15 PM

Kevin: Regarding energy, coservation and efficiency, there is something called the Jevon's Paradox.


Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Dec 2, 2010 10:22:13 PM

Kevin: regarding living by a nuclear power plant vs. living by a wind farm:


Posted by: Paul Lindsey | Dec 2, 2010 10:45:44 PM