SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The potential for renewable energy development in the Southwest is tremendous, but two top officials in President Barack Obama's administration said Monday much work needs to be done to meet the challenges of exporting that power to market.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz were among dozens of state and tribal officials who met in Santa Fe as part of the administration's effort to develop recommendations regarding the transmission, storage and distribution of energy.
Jewell and Moniz said one of the biggest challenges has been working across state lines and Native American jurisdictions to site and permit transmission and pipeline projects. They pointed to the $2 billion SunZia project between New Mexico and Arizona as one example.
The proposed transmission line was stalled for months until the Department of Defense offered a compromise this spring that eased concerns about the project's effects on operations at a missile range in southern New Mexico.
Jewell said the U.S. needs a comprehensive plan for energy development. Instead of seeing individual processes, a strategic focus is needed that considers the expansion of oil and gas with renewable energy and the planning of transmission lines and pipelines all at the same time.
"Each of us has a role to play and how do we knit those things together so that we can cooperate and have an energy future that is more sensible, less complicated and less bureaucratic than it's been," she said. "Certainly, we have a long way to go to make that happen."
More than a dozen meetings are being held around the country as part of the administration's energy review. A report focused on infrastructure challenges is expected in January.
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