Xcel Energy Inc. has energized the first segment of a new high-voltage transmission line to open what the company called a critical pathway for industrial growth in southeastern New Mexico as it provides a vital link with Texas.
The 86-mile, 345-kV line runs between the new China Draw substation south of Carlsbad, N.M., and Hobbs, N.M., and is the first of several segments of the $400 million, 254-mile transmission line that will run from China Draw to the Tuco substation near Lubbock, Texas. When the overall project is completed in mid-2020, the transmission line will serve part of the Permian Basin, an oil and natural gas producing region that covers large areas of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico.
David Hudson, president of Xcel Energy's New Mexico and Texas operations, said in a July 26 news release the transmission project "will vastly improve the efficiency and reliability of our network" and reduce customer costs. The project is being handled through Xcel Energy subsidiary Southwestern Public Service Co.
The China Draw-Hobbs segment was completed at a cost of $140 million. The connection will serve renewable energy growth in New Mexico that, along with mining and agriculture, is adding hundreds of megawatts of new load requests.
While the wind projects will provide additional power generation capacity, major developments in mining, oil and natural gas extraction and other commercial growth prompted Xcel Energy to expand its infrastructure in southeastern New Mexico, which has surpassed Oklahoma and California to become the third-largest oil producer in the U.S., according to the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.
The Hobbs-China Draw line is a major part of Xcel Energy's "Power for the Plains" initiative to boost transmission capacity and reliability in New Mexico and Texas. The utility has invested in more than 800 miles of new transmission lines, more than 30 new substations and upgrades to 40 existing substations in the initiative.
New Mexico regulators approved the New Mexico portion of the Hobbs-China Draw project in late 2017 following earlier regulatory approvals of the Texas segments.