PNM to pay $285 million to buy Central New Mexico transmission line

May 3, 2019

Public Service Company of New Mexico plans to buy a 165-mile transmission line that will carry electrical power from a wind farm near Corona in Central New Mexico to two PNM substations near Interstate 40.

PNM will acquire the transmission line for $285 million from the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority, a quasi-governmental entity that owns the Western Spirit project being developed in partnership with San Francisco-based Pattern Energy Group 2 LP, doing business as Pattern Development.

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission must review the sale.

Pattern, a global wind developer, will also build the Estancia Valley Wind Center that will feed the Western Spirit line.

PNM, which has made a long-term commitment to shift entirely to carbon-free energy sources, will get no renewable energy credits from this wind power as the megawatts generated will be sold to southwestern customers west of New Mexico. However, the line will have the capacity to carry additional power.

“This is setting the table for PNM to take advantage of renewables in the future,” said Adam Renz, business development manager for Pattern.

Pattern is also finishing the final stage of construction on the Broadview Wind Center north of Clovis. In addition, Pattern will build a new Pajarito substation southeast of Albuquerque that will be transferred to PNM. Western Spirit power will go to Pajarito and the PNM Clines Corner substation, Renz said.

The Western Spirit line will have a capacity of 800 megawatts, which can power about 131,200 households, PNM spokesman Ray Sandoval said.

Along with the three wind power facilities Pattern is building in Estancia Valley, Pattern will also build seven more wind facilities south of Corona.

Even though the initial power will be sold out of state, the electrical infrastructure remains in New Mexico, which is a reason PNM is buying Western Spirit.

“It allows redundancy in our system,” Sandoval said. “It adds reliability to our grid.”

Construction on Western Spirit and Estancia Valley is expected to start next year with completion expected in 2021.

“While sunshine and wind may be plentiful in New Mexico, the ability to deliver the clean energy they can produce is limited by the capacity of transmission lines,” Pat Vincent-Collawn, chairman, president and CEO of PNM Resources, the Albuquerque parent company of PNM, said in a news release.

“Expansion of the PNM transmission grid makes it possible for Pattern Development to invest in wind energy resources in New Mexico.”

Wind Spirit will not impact the rates of existing PNM retail and wholesale customers, according to the release.

New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority was established by the New Mexico Legislature in 2007 to plan, finance, develop and acquire high-voltage transmission lines and storage projects. Renz said the initial plan was for the authority to own Western Spirit long-term, but PNM realized the transmission line would be useful for redundancy and reliability.