N.M. regulators grant Pacific Wind’s request for location approval of Gen-Tie facilities, subject to certain conditions

As noted in the final order, Pacific Wind in November 2018 filed with the commission an application for approval to locate up to 500 MW of wind energy generation, and for approval to locate an approximately 18-mile, 345-kV generation tie transmission line, as well as the associated La Joya substation and Torrance switching station in Torrance County

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, in a May 16 final order, adopted a recommended decision that calls for, among other things, conditional approval of Pacific Wind Development LLC’s request for location approval of the proposed La Joya Wind Project.

As noted in the final order, Pacific Wind in November 2018 filed with the commission an application for approval to locate up to 500 MW of wind energy generation known as the La Joya Wind Project, to be built in phases in Torrance County, N.M., and for approval to locate an approximately 18-mile, 345-kV generation tie transmission line (Gen-Tie Line), as well as the associated La Joya substation and Torrance switching station in Torrance County, in order to connect the La Joya Wind Project to the electric transmission grid.

Pacific Wind also sought a determination of right of way (ROW) width of 150 feet for the Gen-Tie Line to the extent required by law, the commission said.

According to the application, the project will be built in phases, with the first phase to supply Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) with 166 MW of wind energy to serve Facebook’s data center in Los Lunas, N.M.; construction is expected to begin in 3Q19 or 4Q19, and to be completed by December 2020.

The commission also said that according to the application, AVANGRID is pursuing additional market opportunities for later phases, and thus is seeking location approval for up to 500 MW of wind generation for the La Joya Wind Project as a whole. That size is determined by the limits of AVANGRID’s large generator interconnection agreement (LGIA) with PNM and later phases would be built, as well as put into operation, in response to market opportunities and arrangements with off-takers.

The commission added that according to the application, the phase sizes in generation capability – in megawatts – and actual locations may shift to accommodate such arrangements, but the total for all phases of the La Joya Wind Project will not exceed the requested 500 MW, and all phases will be located within the wind project area.

As noted in the final order, the commission approved the La Joya power purchase agreement (PPA) between PNM and Facebook, with the final order in that proceeding stating that the PPA provides that AVANGRID will sell to PNM the energy output of the La Joya wind facility over a 20-year term. The nameplate capacity of the La Joya wind facility is about 166 MW, and it is expected to produce 550,000 to 650,000 MWh per year, that order said, adding that the La Joya wind facility is a new 166-MW wind generator located 18 miles east of Estancia, N.M., in Torrance County. The project will be owned and operated by AVANGRID, that order noted, adding that it is anticipated that the project will include seven GE 116 turbines at 2.3 MW each, and 60 GE 127 turbines at 2.5 MW each. PNM will purchase the energy at the rate of $27.92/MWh, that order said, adding that the 20-year term begins on the commercial operation date, which is expected to be Nov. 1, 2020.

In its final order, the commission noted that according to Pacific Wind’s application, in order to provide transmission service for all phases of the La Joya Wind Project, Pacific Wind proposes to build the 345-kV Gen-Tie Line to connect the La Joya wind generation to PNM’s grid, along with the La Joya substation and Torrance switching station. The application also noted that transmission of electricity from the La Joya Wind Project would then proceed on the existing El Cabo Gen-Tie from the proposed Torrance substation to PNM’s existing Clines Comers switching station, and then on PNM’s proposed BB2 transmission line.

The commission added that regulatory staff recommended that the commission grant Pacific Wind’s request for location approval of the Gen-Tie facilities, subject to certain conditions, including that Pacific Wind file copies of all construction permits received for the Gen-Tie facilities within two weeks of receipt.

Staff also recommended that the commission grant Pacific Wind’s request for location approval of the wind project, subject to certain conditions, including that Pacific Wind file a notice of the date that the wind project is placed into service.

The commission added that Pacific Wind accepted and agreed to staff’s recommended conditions.

A recommended decision issued last month found that, with respect to Pacific Wind’s request for approval of a 150-foot ROW width, normally 150 feet is sufficient for the typical 1,000-foot span length of the proposed Gen-Tie Line. However, the commission added, the recommended decision found, for the maximum span length of 1,100 feet, the ROW width should be 151 feet to comply with the clearance requirement for an extreme wind condition. Therefore, the recommended decision determined that a maximum 151-foot ROW width is necessary to build and maintain the Gen-Tie Line.

Regarding Pacific Wind’s request for location approval of the Gen-Tie facilities, the recommended decision found that Pacific Wind’s application contains all information required, and that Pacific Wind has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the Gen-Tie facilities would not unduly impair important environmental benefits. Accordingly, the commission added, the recommended decision determined that Pacific Wind’s request for location approval of the Gen-Tie facilities should be granted subject to certain conditions.

The recommended decision also found that, with respect to Pacific Wind’s request for location approval of the La Joya Wind Project, Pacific Wind’s application contains all required information, and that Pacific Wind has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the operations of the La Joya Wind Project will comply with all applicable air and water pollution control standards and regulations existing, the commission said.

Accordingly, the recommended decision found that Pacific Wind’s request for location approval of the La Joya Wind Project should be approved subject to certain conditions.

Pacific Wind and staff did not file exceptions, the commission added.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3022 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.