Xcel Energy completes two transmission projects in New Mexico

Arizona transmission elp

Xcel Energy said Dec. 1 that it has placed into service two transmission projects in southeast New Mexico that address industrial demand growth.

The 42-mile, 230 kV Potash Junction to Roadrunner transmission project was placed in service in late October, and at a later date it will be upgraded to 345 kV service to be “part of a major 345 kV power backbone moving power” into southeastern New Mexico, Xcel said.

The 20-mile, 115 kV Battle Axe to Roadrunner project was energized Nov. 12, though a dedication ceremony with officials involved with both projects was held Dec. 1, Xcel said in a statement.

The final cost for the Potash Junction–Roadrunner line is $59 million, while the final cost for the Battle Axe–Roadrunner line is $14 million, an Xcel spokesperson told TransmissionHub Dec. 3.

Both projects were completed on time and on budget, the company said.

According to TransmissionHub data, the Battle Axe–Roadrunner project carried an initial cost estimate of $18 million, while the Potash Junction–Roadrunner project had an initial estimate of $59 million.

The projects are part of Xcel unit Southwestern Public Service’s “Power for the Plains” transmission expansion efforts, which include $1.6 billion in numerous grid projects in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma designed to come into service over the next five years.

Many of the planned projects are in response to industrial demand growth in oil production, natural gas processing, potash mining and other expansions in the region, in addition to improving access to markets for renewable generation facilities, Xcel said in a fact sheet.

The Potash Junction–Roadrunner line extends from the Potash Junction substation near Carlsbad, N.M., in Eddy County to the new Roadrunner substation in southern Lea County.

By 2020, SPS plans to link the line with 250 miles of new facilities to complete a 345 kV system from the TUCO substation north of Lubbock, Texas, to the Roadrunner substation and on to a new China Draw substation, 22 miles south of Carlsbad.

When New Mexico state regulators approved the Potash Junction–Roadrunner project, it was noted that SPS proposed to operate the line at 230 kV until June 2018, when the proposed Kiowa substation would be built and energized, and thereafter SPS would operate the line at 345 kV specifications.

Because a 345 kV line can be operated at 230 kV service but not vice versa, and given the short time period before 345 kV service is needed in the region, it was more economical to build the project at 345 kV specifications compared with replacing a 230 kV line later, when 345 kV service would be needed.

The Battle Axe–Roadrunner 115 kV line is in southern Lea County, and it included the construction of the new Battle Axe substation, which is about 38 miles southeast of Carlsbad.

In the statement, Xcel noted that community leaders praised the infrastructure investments as being critical to the region’s economic growth.

“Whether it’s potash mining, nuclear materials management or oil and gas production, all need a power utility that grows with their industries. Xcel Energy has made that commitment to grow with the area,” John Waters, executive director for the Carlsbad Department of Development, said in the statement.

Besides the industrial growth, the region has seen renewable power project additions that would not be possible without an enhanced transmission grid, Xcel noted. The Roosevelt wind project near Elida, N.M., began service in October, with 250 MW to supply Xcel customers through a long-term power purchase agreement.

By the end of 2016, two photovoltaic solar plants being developed by affiliates of NextEra Energy’s NextEra Energy Resources are expected to be in service in Chaves County and benefit from a $28 million, 115 kV transmission loop around the city of Roswell, Xcel added. Those two projects are the 70 MW Roswell Solar facility and the 70 MW Chaves County Solar facility, the Xcel spokesperson said.

“Transmission investments indirectly lead to more renewable energy development, and renewable energy is bringing great benefits by enhancing the regional tax base and providing low-cost energy capacity for Xcel Energy customers,” SPS President David Hudson said in the statement.

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