New Mexico Energizes First Leg of Major Transmission Line

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It’s been years in the making, and now officials say the first leg of a major renewable energy transmission line in New Mexico has been energized.

The New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority made the announcement on Oct. 26, saying the Western Spirit project is expected to be in operation by the end of the year.

The transmission line will carry wind-generated power to the grid in New Mexico and other western markets.

The project involved a novel public-private partnership between the transmission authority and Pattern Energy, which is developing a collection of wind farms in the state. New Mexico’s largest electric utility, Public Service Co. of New Mexico, will acquire and operate the transmission line when it’s complete.

State officials said the transmission line will be important as New Mexico aims to eliminate carbon emissions within the utility sector over the next two decades.

RETA Board Chairman Robert Busch said in a statement that the successful development of the transmission line and the state’s energy policies are spurring interest from renewable energy and transmission developers. He added that the line enables new investment of over $1.5 billion in renewable generation and transmission in the state.

Despite New Mexico’s potential for developing more wind and solar resources, a study commissioned by RETA last year identified a need for grid modernization and construction of 900 to 1,300 miles (1,448 to 2,092 kilometers) of new high voltage transmission lines.

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