NRS eyes California with project

National Renewable Solutions (NRS) is hopeful of winning bids to supply at least 350MW of wind power to California from a project on the New Mexico-Texas border, for which the developer plans to order 206 General Electric 1.7MW turbines, Recharge learns.

The two companies are working together to design the Broadview Energy KW wind farm and also with Mortenson Construction, the contractor that will build it, says NRS chief executive Patrick Pelstring.

“We have been bidding in to the California utilities. They’ve been active in the market in the last 60 days. We believe we will likely get shortlisted as we move through the negotiations,” he says, noting that NRS thinks it has been “very competitive with pricing.”

“We need to firm up power purchase agreements. We’ll probably know a lot more in the next 30 days,” he adds. The PPAs would be for 25 years.

Pelstring says Broadview Energy KW has qualified for the federal production tax credit which pays $23 per MWh, inflation-adjusted during a project’s first decade in operation.

NRS will likely start construction in spring 2015 with full commercial operation before 1 January 2016, the month when the first delivery dates to California will become available. For its part, GE has given an assurance that the turbines would be available in 2015 for installation.

To get the power to California, NRS has positions on existing transmission lines with electric utilities PNM in New Mexico and Arizona Public Service.  

“Our site is probably the only one in the country were you can deliver from one of the top wind regimes into California on existing transmission. Everybody in Wyoming, Montana and up north got transmission lines planned,” Pelstring says.

To access PNM, NRS recently signed an interconnection agreement for up to 500MW with Tres Amigas, which will unite North America’s three major grids at a location close to the wind farm.

The so-called “SuperStation” will tie them via an initial three 5GW superconductive high-voltage direct current power transmission lines. It will act as a power market hub and also make more renewable energy available for export to California and elsewhere.

Groundbreaking for Tres Amigas – to be built in three stages - has been delayed as its backers have obtained about 75% of financing. They say the balance will be ready later this quarter or early in the second quarter.

Both the initial $429m phase will have capacity to transfer 750MW of power between the eastern and western grids, and the interconnection with the wind farm, are due for completion by December 2015.

Most of the wind farm will be held by local community landowners in both New Mexico and Texas, although NRS is looking for other investors. “NRS is not a balance sheet investor,” Pelstring says, adding it has a project manager and developer role.NRS is based in Wayzata, Minnesota.