Xcel plans new transmission capacity between New Mexico and Texas

Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) said June 22 that it is planning a major addition to the power system as part of its Power for the Plains grid enhancement initiative that will deliver a more reliable and abundant electricity supply to customers in New Mexico and Texas.

The company is seeking route approvals in both New Mexico and Texas for a 345-kV transmission line that eventually will connect the TUCO Substation north of Abernathy, Texas, to the China Draw Substation more than 240 miles away in southern Eddy County, New Mexico. The combined cost of all line segments is estimated at $400 million.

A similar transmission project was completed in 2014, which connected the TUCO Substation to a substation near Woodward in northwestern Oklahoma. When all the segments between TUCO and China Draw are completed by 2020, a 345-kV line will stretch more than 400 miles from western Oklahoma to southeastern New Mexico, where there is a significant increase in electricity demand.

“The TUCO projects are critical upgrades to Xcel Energy’s New Mexico and Texas transmission grid that not only boost the reliability and capacity of our network, but also enable us to tap more economical sources of power in the east,” said David Hudson, president of Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas. “This westward extension ensures power can move freely into one of the nation’s most prolific oil and gas producing regions, which also happens to be rich in agricultural and mining resources and renewable energy prospects as well.”

In May, the company submitted possible routes to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission for a segment of line from Hobbs, N.M., to the China Draw Substation near Carlsbad, N.M. Later in June, Xcel Energy will submit possible routes to the Public Utility Commission of Texas for a segment of the line running from the TUCO Substation to the Yoakum County Substation near Denver City, Texas. Additionally, two line segments are planned to continue the line between the Yoakum County Substation and a substation west of Hobbs.

Cost, length and in-service dates of the TUCO-China Draw segments are:

  • The 86-mile Hobbs-China Draw segment is to be in service by June 1, 2018, at a total project cost of more than $160 million.
  • The 110-mile TUCO-Yoakum County segment is planned to be in service by June 1, 2020. Combined with the two segments that will connect the TUCO-Yoakum County line to Hobbs, the total project cost for the TUCO-Yoakum County-Hobbs segments is estimated at $240 million.
  • Plans for one of the two connections across the state line will be submitted later in the summer to New Mexico regulators. The Texas segment running from Yoakum County Substation to the New Mexico state line has already gained regulatory approval.

The TUCO projects are part of a larger capital investment initiative launched in 2010 that is improving the grid across Xcel Energy’s 50,000 square-mile New Mexico and Texas service area. Information on these and other projects can be found at www.powerfortheplains.com.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.