New Mexico has taken the approach of establishing its smart grid initiative – the Green Grid Initiative, as it calls it – as a stateled project.

Saying that it can begin implementing a green grid system within five years, the state is also positioning itself as the ideal location to lead smart grid development in the U.S., with all the necessary resources to address the full range of issues. Among these are both fossil and renewable energy sources, the ability to issues bonds for renewable energy transmission lines, R&D capabilities at national laboratories and universities, progressive utilities and electric cooperatives, and a forward looking leadership.

Like other parties across the nation New Mexico is awaiting the opportunity to secure smart grid stimulus funding. However, the state has also scored itself a coup in securing support from Japan. Under a Memorandum of Understanding concluded between the Governor Bill Richardson and Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) Toshihiro Nikai in early May, the parties agree to “work towards the development of a smart grid project that will eventually lead to the creation of an international energy park”, with the METI collaborating with current state initiatives to create a smart grid allowing renewable energy to be placed on the grid for consumer use.

Press reports have suggested investment figures of $20 million to $30 million, the project leadership of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, and the involvement of companies such as Hitachi, Toshiba, Fuji and Panasonic, but none of these details can be confirmed at this stage, Stephan Helgesen, the Green Grid Project Coordinator at the State of New Mexico Economic Development Department, told us – out of deference to the Japanese partners, with whom much of the fine detail is still being finalized.

“We are having ongoing discussions at the managerial and technical levels, and for example we will be hosting a number of technical experts next week to review projects,” said Helgesen, a former diplomat who also heads up the state’s Office of Science and Technology.

In preparation for the state’s application for stimulus funding companies and other entities were invited to submit projects for consideration. Seven different projects are currently being evaluated for the Green Grid initiative, Helgasen commented, adding that information about the projects should be made available later in the month.