Connecting with Renewables, and Honoring of Native American History
Xcel Energy has recently announced a wide range of expansion plans, including $1.6 billion in T&D system upgrades in the territory of its subsidiary Southwestern Public Service Company (SPS) in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
On the distribution side, the New Mexico territory has recently seen completion of approximately 400 miles of distribution line since 2014.
For the transmission system, the build-out $105 million for 100 miles of new 115 kilovolt (kV) transmission line which were energized in the two states in 2016.
The projects completed this year also include the Curry-Bailey 115 kV transmission line spanning 37 miles between the Curry County Substation east of Clovis, N.M., to the Bailey County Substation south of Muleshoe, Texas. The approximately $38 million project will improve system reliability as customer load growth and new generation resources are added in the region.
Before this line was completed, we had only one transmission line coming into the Bailey County Substation. The new line opens up other options on the transmission system in the area and helps prevent reliability issues.
— - Donnie TeBeest, Senior Project Manager at Xcel Energy
"Before this line was completed, we had only one transmission line coming into the Bailey County Substation," said Donnie TeBeest, Xcel Energy project manager. "The new line opens up other options on the transmission system in the area and helps prevent reliability issues."
In addition, the Xcel Energy Chaves County Substation in Roswell, NM, was upgraded to interconnect New Mexico’s largest solar facilities, commissioned in October, 2016--the Roswell and Chaves County Solar Energy Centers feature 600,000 solar panels with the capacity to generate 140 megawatts of clean, renewable energy.
Historic finds preserved during Xcel’s construction work
Crews conducting archaeological excavations for an Xcel Energy transmission line project in Eddy County, New Mexico hit the historical jackpot earlier this year. They uncovered roughly 26,000 artifacts in the area, some thought to date back over 5,000 years.
The archaeological finds include an extremely rare shallow basin pit house, which was a form of shelter dating back to the archaic time period. Inside the pit house was a storage pit, fire hearth and sockets for wooden supports to form a roof over the structure. The pit house would be the only archaic period habitation structure ever uncovered in Eddy County.
“Xcel Energy has been a great partner on this. We would never have uncovered these finds without their help,” said Bruce Boeke, Bureau of Land Management Archaeologist. “It is a great opportunity to learn something about the people who lived here and understand the challenges they faced.”
Bedrock mortars used by Native Americans to process plant foods were also discovered, in addition to ancient stone arrow heads, small trade beads and a very rare rolled metal cone, typically used for decorating clothing, baskets and horse bridles. After being analyzed the artifacts will be turned over to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe to be curated.
Look-ahead: Additional Projects’ Scope
Xcel Energy is additionally seeking route approvals to build an approximately 240-mile 345 kV transmission line to deliver more reliable and abundant energy in New Mexico and Texas.
The transmission line will connect the TUCO Substation north of Abernathy, Texas, to the China Draw Substation in southern Eddy County, N.M. The combined cost of the TUCO-China Draw 345 kV transmission line is estimated at $400 million. The line is expected to be in-service in 2020.