New Mexico regulators adopt recommended decision calling for approval of 345-kV line

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, in a Nov. 29 final order, adopted, approved, and accepted a recommended decision that calls for the commission to grant Southwestern Public Service (SPS) a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CCN) to build, operate, and maintain a 345-kV transmission line and associated facilities in Lea County, N.M., that would extend about 36 miles from the New Mexico/Texas state line to SPS’ Hobbs generating substation.

As noted in the final order, SPS filed an application in June requesting that the commission enter an order that:

  • Issues a CCN authorizing SPS to build and operate the 345-kV line and associated facilities
  • Approves the location of that line segments and associated facilities
  • Makes a determination that the proposed 150-foot right of way (ROW) width is necessary to build, operate, and maintain the proposed 345-kV transmission line segments
  • Authorizes SPS to accrue an allowance for funds used during construction (AFUDC) of the line and associated facilities

In its application, the company asserted that the proposed line is necessary to serve its existing and expanding New Mexico retail loads in southeastern New Mexico, and to enhance reliability of SPS’ southeastern New Mexico transmission system by reducing potential overload and low-voltage conditions, the commission said.

SPS stated that the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) had prepared a high priority incremental load study (HPILS) that demonstrated the proposed project is needed. The commission added that the application stated that based on the HPILS, the SPP issued a notification to construct (NTC) in 2014 to SPS for the construction of a 345-kV line from the Hobbs substation in Lea County to the Yoakum County substation in Yoakum County, Texas; the application addresses the New Mexico portion of the proposed line.

SPS stated that the expected in-service date of the proposed project is June 2020, and that the estimated cost of the proposed project is about $50.9m, which includes AFUDC of about $1.43m. The commission added that the application did not request a commission determination of the ratemaking principles and treatment for the estimated costs of the proposed project in this case.

The commission said that the record shows that regulatory staff recommended that the commission approve SPS’ request for a CCN for the proposed project. Staff further recommended that the commission grant approval of the location for the proposed project.

Staff and the recommended decision conclude that the public convenience and necessity require issuance of the CCN, and that issuance of a CCN is in the public interest, subject to certain conditions, including that SPS is to file the actual costs of the proposed project as soon as they become available, the commission said.

The recommended decision found that the proposed project would not unduly impair any important environmental values and that the application does not violate an existing state, county, or municipal land use statutory or administrative regulation, and therefore, location approval should be granted, the commission said.

Staff and the recommended decision agree with a ROW width of 150 feet, and they agree that SPS should be granted approval to include an AFUDC certificated estimated cost of the proposed project.

Among other things, the commission also said that it finds that no exceptions to the recommended decision were filed.

The commission said that it “finds that the recommended decision is well taken and the orders contained therein should be adopted, accepted, and approved by the commission.”

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3235 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.