Prehearing conference on PNM’s proposed acquisition of Western Spirit scheduled for May 29

PNM said that it requests that the commission issue a final order within five months and in any event by Nov. 6

A prehearing conference regarding Public Service Company of New Mexico’s (PNM) petition for approval to acquire the Western Spirit 345-kV Transmission Project will be held on May 29 in the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission’s hearing room in Santa Fe, N.M., according to a May 20 order issued by a commission hearing examiner.

In its May 10 application for approval to acquire the project, PNM told the commission that it is seeking to purchase the new line and associated facilities, which are being jointly developed by Western Spirit Transmission, LLC (WST), and the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA). PNM said that it proposes to acquire the project after it is completed and in operation.

The estimated total cost of the Western Spirit Project is $359.2m, PNM said, adding that the entire amount would be recovered through an incremental FERC-approved rate paid by Pattern New Mexico Wind LLC (Pattern NMW) for transmission service. PNM said that it would recover all of the Western Spirit Project costs through an incremental rate charged to Pattern NMW. Existing wholesale transmission or retail customers would benefit from improved reliability and system improvements at no cost, the company said.

PNM noted that wind resources in New Mexico are concentrated in the eastern portion of the state, which is an area without significant transmission infrastructure. To access the PNM transmission system and western energy markets, those renewable resources need to be interconnected to the interstate grid, the company said, adding that there are numerous wind farms interconnected to PNM’s system in that area.

Pattern NMW plans to add an additional 800 MW of new wind generation to be delivered into the grid. PNM added that as a transmission provider, it is required under its FERC-approved tariff to provide the requested transmission service.

Describing the Western Spirit Project, PNM said that the RETA-Western Spirit Project (WSP) joint project – referred to as the RETA Project – includes 165 miles of new 345-kV transmission line and associated facilities, with the line beginning in Santa Fe County near Clines Corners, proceeding south, and then running west and north through Torrance, Socorro, Valencia, and Bernalillo counties to PNM’s transmission system in Bernalillo County at a new 345-kV station – the Pajarito station.

The RETA Project would also include two intermediate stations – the Western Spirit station interconnecting the wind generation project in Torrance County, and a new mid-point series compensation station in Socorro County.

PNM also said that it would interconnect the RETA Project to its transmission system at the new station at Pajarito, as well as at its expanded Clines Corners station. PNM noted that it would:

  • Expand the Clines Corners station to interconnect the northern portion of the project
  • Add the new Pajarito 345-kV station to interconnect the western portion of the project
  • Loop the existing West Mesa to Sandia 345-kV line into the Pajarito station
  • Upgrade the West Mesa to Pajarito and the Pajarito to Sandia 345-kV line to 1195 MVA
  • Install new or expand PNM’s existing eastern New Mexico Remedial Action Scheme

PNM said that it requests that the commission issue a final order within five months and in any event by Nov. 6 containing these approvals:

  • Determine that it is lawful and in the public interest for PNM to purchase the RETA Project
  • Provide the commission’s written consent and approval for PNM to acquire the RETA Project and its Western Spirit facilities from RETA and WST

As TransmissionHub reported, project construction is expected to begin by early 2020, and to be completed in 2021.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3058 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.