Xtreme Power to supply proposed U.S. grid connector

Supersized power station, which would connect three major arteries of the U.S. power grid, to use PowerCell energy storage system.

Tres Amigas

Xtreme Power announced Wednesday its PowerCell energy storage and Dynamic Power Resources energy management system will be used in what could be the most significant transmission station in the U.S. electric grid.

In March, Tres Amigas got approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to offer transmission services at negotiated rates across the three main arteries of the U.S. electrical grid. The agency is now considering allowing it to build and connect a mega-hub based in Clovis, N.M.

Specifically, the proposed Tres Amigas SuperStation would allow power to be transmitted as needed among three independently operating U.S. electricity grids: the Eastern Interconnection, the Western Interconnection, and the Texas Interconnection.

The three major grids currently supply power to people in Canada and Mexico, as well as the throughout the U.S.

While not all aspects of the endeavor are yet officially approved, comments made by FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff in March signal that the agency will ultimately support the project.

"This project, which is the first of its kind, will allow customers to trade power across the interconnections and to take advantage of opportunities to buy lower cost power from other regions. It may also open a new transmission path for customers interested in tapping the vast renewable energy potential in many parts of the country--Texas, the Southwest, the West and Northwest, the Southeast and the offshore Atlantic," Wellinghoff said in a statement from a hearing.

Tres Amigas, which counts American Superconductor as a stakeholder, claims its super hub and storage facility would be able to move substantial amounts of power among the three systems. The facility will use Xtreme Power's grid storage and management technology in an attempt to decrease brown-outs by offering more reliability and stability across the U.S., and enable renewable-energy sources like wind and solar to be better utilized.

"The role of the SuperStation is multi-faceted, but one of the most critical aspects will be ensuring that the input from renewable energy sources is incorporated smoothly into the span of the three grids, while providing reliable, flexible storage," Tres Amigas CEO Phil Harris said in a statement.

Harris is the former head of PJM Interconnection, one of the largest grid operators in the U.S.

The station would also make use of direct current superconductor power cables buried underground that will be powered by American Superconductor high-temperature superconductor wire and high-powered voltage-source AC/DC power converters. American Superconductor had said that using underground superconductor cables greatly reduces the loss of energy during transmission compared to existing overhead power lines.

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About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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