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Editorial: Renewable Energy Needs Way Into Grid

New Mexico is often touted as a potential renewable energy powerhouse. But if you’re going to produce electricity, it does no good if that power can’t make it into the grid. For reasons that include NIMBY attitudes, wind farms and major solar power plants often seem to be located out in the middle of nowhere.

So it is good news that the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority, Power Network New Mexico and Public Service Company of New Mexico have put together a plan to build a $350 million, 200-mile transmission line to carry electricity generated by solar and wind from east and central New Mexico to PNM’s Rio Puerco switching station in Sandoval County. From there, the electricity will flow through existing lines to the Four Corners switchyard, where it could be delivered to western markets. The cost will be covered by those who directly benefit, not by New Mexico ratepayers.

The three organizations filed a request Wednesday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to build the project. The 345-kilovolt line would carry up to 1,500 megawatts, roughly equivalent to three-quarters of PNM’s peak electricity demand during the summer.

The proposed route would take the line from eastern and central New Mexico, west across Torrance County and then north into Santa Fe County, where it would jog west just north of the Sandias into Sandoval County. The group will need to access right of way.

This sounds like a good way to boost New Mexico’s role in the production of large-scale renewable energy, barring any problems that may come up in the permitting process. NIMBY should not be one of them.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.