Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL), in a Nov. 14 update, said that its Power for the Plains transmission expansion in New Mexico and Texas is moving forward, with more than 50 miles of new transmission completed this year, and construction underway on another 300 miles in both states.
The Power for the Plains initiative is a series of projects aimed at expanding and updating the electric grid to improve electric reliability and meet growing demand for the delivery of new generation, including renewable energy, the company said.
In southeast New Mexico, construction is taking place on five projects, the company said, noting, for instance, that work on the 90-mile, 345-kV Hobbs-China Draw transmission line project in New Mexico began in April.
That project links the Hobbs Plant substation that is located about 11 miles northwest of Hobbs, with the new China Draw substation that is located about 22 miles south of Carlsbad. The company added that the project, which is estimated to cost $163m, will be complete by next June.
The company noted that one of the construction challenges on the Hobbs-China Draw project included building the line across the Pecos River near Loving, N.M. Crews met the challenge using a unique construction technique that involved using a rope gun to project a small rope about 300 feet across the river, the company said. Once on the other side, crews attached larger ropes and brought them back across the river and up into stringing dollies to be able to pull the conductor across the river, Xcel said.
Work on the Livingston Ridge-Sage Brush-Cardinal 115-kV transmission line is finishing up this month, Xcel said, adding that the project, which includes nearly 50 miles of new transmission line and two substations in Lea and Eddy counties, will provide additional transmission capacity and increase reliability.
The company noted that 24 miles of transmission line upgrades in Roswell are expected to be complete by next February. Xcel said that the Roswell Loop project, which includes upgrades to four substations, is an effort to replace older 69-kV lines with new 115-kV lines to boost reliability.
In Texas, construction is taking place on another three projects, the company said, noting, for instance, that construction on the first segment of a nearly 170-mile, 345-kV transmission line between Texas and New Mexico is also underway.
The TUCO-Yoakum-Hobbs transmission line is being built in three segments, the company said, adding that work in Texas on the 27-mile section between the Yoakum substation and the Texas/New Mexico border began this month.
Texas regulators have approved the 105-mile segment between the Yoakum and TUCO substations, while approval on the final 36-mile segment in New Mexico between the state line and the Hobbs substation is expected by the end of the year, the company said.
Transmission line construction is underway on a nearly 30-mile project between Canyon and Hereford, Xcel said, adding that the existing 115-kV line is being rebuilt to increase capacity and overall network reliability.
The company also noted that work on the 13-mile, 230-kV Wolfforth-Carlisle transmission line in Lubbock County is expected to be complete by next March. That project also includes upgrading two Xcel substations, the company said.
Noting that transmission lines open pathways for wind, Xcel said that it is proposing two major wind projects in Texas and New Mexico. Pending approval, the anticipated in-service date for the 478-MW Hale Wind project in Hale County, Texas, is in 2019, while the 522-MW Sagamore Wind Project in Roosevelt County, N.M., is expected to be completed in 2020, the company said.
Xcel said that it is also seeking approval of a contract to purchase an additional 230 MW of wind energy from two facilities that are being developed in Texas by NextEra Energy Resources – one in Cochran County, and the other in Crosby County.