SPS gets go-ahead for new 230-kV line in eastern New Mexico

Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS) d/b/a Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) has received unanimous approval from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) to move forward with a $60m transmission upgrade in the Clovis, N.M., area (Case No. 12-00027-UT). The commission voted July 3 to issue the utility a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) for the proposed project.

The upgrades were identified in Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) 2009 transmission expansion plan (STEP), which identified a number of needed improvements in the area, an Xcel spokesperson told TransmissionHub on July 13.

“The primary driver is improved reliability,” the spokesperson said. “We’re seeing a lot of growth all over our region [including] a lot of agricultural growth and a lot of military growth in the area with nearby Cannon Air Force Base.”

To keep up with that growth, Xcel needs a more robust transmission network, the spokesperson added.

“There are more improvements to be made in the area, and these all tie in to wider system improvements that eventually will increase the carrying capacity and the connectivity of the whole system,” the spokesperson said.

Although the area in which the upgrades will be made is close to the site of the planned Tres Amigas superstation, “it was a totally independent process that [identified the need],” according to the spokesperson, who said SPP’s improvement plans were made independently from the planning for Tres Amigas. “There isn’t really any connection at all.”

The spokesperson said, “We have a lot of improvements all over the area – close to $1bn in transmission improvements just in our Texas-New Mexico area, so this is just one aspect of that. We have so many different projects around the region that we’ll be getting a lot of approvals – and seeking a lot of approvals – in the next two to three years.”

The most recently approved project involves the construction of the new Pleasant Hill substation northeast of Clovis and two new 230-kV transmission lines that will connect Pleasant Hill with the existing Roosevelt County and Oasis substations, which also are targeted for capacity upgrades.

Connecting the substations provides a higher degree of reliability by placing three separate transformers at different locations with multiple transmission paths among the substations, Xcel said in a statement announcing the NMPRC’s decision.

Additionally, two existing transmission lines will be routed through the new Pleasant Hill substation, relieving congestion on the system, Xcel said.

The improvements are expected to be in service by late 2014.