Amarillo electric load growth prompts transmission upgrades

AMARILLO, Texas – A series of Xcel Energy upgrades to Amarillo’s high-voltage electricity transmission system will boost reliability and capacity in the ever-expanding outer rings of the city.

Between now and the end of 2013, Xcel Energy will spend $33.6 million completing projects that will add and update transmission facilities in north, east and south Amarillo – areas where the city is outgrowing the existing transmission infrastructure as electricity demand increases.

“Upgrading and modernizing the transmission system not only helps prevent and minimize outages on the system, but also supports the efforts of local economic developers who promote reliable, plentiful and low-cost power to businesses seeking to relocate or expand in the Amarillo area,” said Riley Hill, president and CEO of Southwestern Public Service Company, an Xcel Energy company.  

Beyond 2013, additional transmission enhancements are being studied for the western edges of Amarillo. All projects were identified as necessary improvements in a 2010 study by the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), the regional transmission organization that coordinates reliability on the transmission system serving portions of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana.

SPP identifies areas of improvement and issues notices to construct. Xcel Energy’s policy is to accept these notices to build and own new lines within its existing transmission footprint.

Xcel Energy’s Southwestern Public Service Company subsidiary serves close to 100 communities in the Panhandle and South Plains of Texas and eastern and southeastern New Mexico. The company’s transmission system reaches even farther, taking in the Oklahoma Panhandle and portions of southwestern Kansas. The company will spend more than $2 billion upgrading generation, transmission and distribution facilities in almost every part of this area.

The 2012-2013 transmission enhancement projects in Amarillo include:

• North Amarillo – Load growth led the company to build the new Rolling Hills Substation on Cherry Avenue, and to upgrade the • capacity at the existing Hastings Substation. Linking the two substations is a new 230-kilovolt transmission line.

• East Amarillo – To improve power flow into east Amarillo, an existing 69-kilovolt line from East Plant Substation on Northeast Third Avenue will be upgraded to 115 kilovolts and connect to the upgraded Hastings Substation.

• South Amarillo – Upgrades to the Randall County Substation southeast of the city will accommodate a new 230-kilovolt line that will run southwest to the existing Amarillo South Substation. Additionally, the company recently completed a rebuild of a 115-kilovolt line running 58 miles from the Randall County Substation to the Kress Substation north of Plainview.