A major power transmission project will proceed in New Mexico after a regulatory group approved a public-private partnership for development of a 400-mile high-voltage direct current line.
The New Mexico North Path project could move as much as 4 GW of renewable energy from sites in northeastern New Mexico to the state’s Four Corners region, encompassing parts of Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico.
The board of directors of the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) on Jan. 12 approved a joint development agreement for the project between RETA and Invenergy Transmission, an affiliate of Chicago, Illinois-based Invenergy. The groups said North Path will support an estimated $11 billion of “untapped renewable energy investment potential in the state.”
Solar and Wind Potential
“New Mexico has some of the best wind and solar energy potential in the United States, and the New Mexico North Path transmission line represents a critically needed pathway for moving low-cost clean energy to consumers across the state and region who are demanding it,” said Bob Busch, chairman of RETA, a group created by state lawmakers to support development of electric transmission and storage projects and allow New Mexico to move electricity both within the state, and export power to neighboring states. “After a promising feasibility study and initial public outreach, RETA and Invenergy Transmission are proud to partner together on development of the New Mexico North Path project.”
The groups said RETA’s involvement in the project will support local, state, and federal oversight of the transmission line’s development, noting in a news release that “RETA’s review process coupled with its independent board—including a statewide elected official and members appointed by the executive and legislative branches of government—will provide a continual, objective, and thorough review of the project.”
The renewable energy produced in northeastern New Mexico will be delivered to the North Path line in Union County. RETA said that area is New Mexico’s best when it comes to wind energy potential. Officials said construction of the line will create about 3,500 jobs, and provide “tens of millions of dollars in annual tax payments” to local, state, and tribal governments.
Energy Transition Act
Fernando Martinez, RETA’s executive director, had earlier said, “The New Mexico North Path project will benefit our state for decades to come by opening access to some of our best domestic renewable energy resources, and the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority is pleased to play a role in advancing this opportunity. Invenergy Transmission has a strong track record and is committed to doing things the right way, which they have shown from the very beginning of their work in New Mexico and we know that will continue into the future.”
The North Path project also will support the New Mexico Energy Transition Act, which calls for 50% of the state’s power to come from renewable energy by 2030.
“Projects like this require true partnerships to be successful, and this agreement between RETA and Invenergy Transmission represents an important early milestone for New Mexico North Path,” said Will Consuegra, director of Transmission Development at Invenergy. “New Mexico North Path will deliver not only clean energy but a wide array of benefits across New Mexico, and we are glad this partnership with RETA shows the project is aligned with the state’s long term energy strategy and goals.”
RETA and Invenergy Transmission in February 2021 signed a memorandum of understanding to coordinate on a project feasibility study, and conduct initial public outreach, for the project. The groups have worked with officials from Union and seven additional counties in New Mexico, along with representatives of the Navajo Nation and Pueblo communities, to identify areas suitable for the project.
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).