Southwestern Public Service to upgrade transmission in eastern New Mexico

Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS) has announced a $24.7m project to upgrade the transmission system that serves the town of Portales, N.M., to accommodate growth in the area and improve the reliability and capacity of the system that serves the city.

“A lot of the infrastructure is decades old and we just see a need for more capacity on the system,” an Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) spokesperson told TransmissionHub Aug. 8. “A 115-kV loop around the city will boost the capacity and the reliability of the system.”

Xcel Energy is the parent company of SPS.

In addition, Portales and its population of about 12,000 is part of what is called a “microplex” consisting of Clovis, N.M., approximately 20 miles to the northeast, and Cannon Air Force Base, about 11 miles to the north. Over the last several years, the area has experienced rapid growth, and the updated infrastructure will help the area sustain that growth.

“There’s always some concern if their economy is outpacing what the infrastructure can handle, that we would pour cold water on a red-hot economy,” the spokesperson said. “We want to get some iron in the ground, not only to meet the base needs, but to prepare them for future growth.”

Over the next five years, Xcel Energy plans to build approximately 11 miles of new 115-kv line, upgrade existing 69-kV equipment in two substations to 115-kV, and upgrade existing 115-kV equipment in a third substation.

The work will take place as three discrete projects, which include construction of almost two miles of new 115-kV line between the South Portales and Market Street substations in southwest Portales, and upgrading both substations from 69-kV service to 115-kV capabilities.

The total cost is estimated at $4.5m, with an in-service date of June 1, 2017, Xcel Energy said.

A second project will involve the construction of seven miles of new 115-kV line between the Market Street and Portales substations in northwest Portales. Existing 115-kV equipment in the Portales substation will be upgraded, and 69-kV equipment in the Market Street substation will be upgraded to 115-kV capabilities.

The total cost is estimated at $14.4m, with an in-service date of June 1, 2017.

The third project involves building more than two miles of new 115-kV line to connect the existing South Portales and Kilgore substations in the southeast corner of Portales.

The total cost is estimated at $5.8m, with an in-service date of June 1, 2018.

“When we’re finished with these projects, Portales will have a more reliable, higher capacity transmission system,” the spokesperson said. “Reliable and reasonably priced energy is a key element in attracting business, and our partnership with our communities requires us to make timely investments in the facilities that serve a growing economy.”

Because Xcel Energy’s transmission lines are part of a larger network, the entire regional grid will benefit from the Portales projects, the spokesperson said.

In addition to serving Portales, SPS provides transmission service to area rural electric cooperatives that also are experiencing increased demand.