Xcel Energy has completed $1.6 million in upgrades to boost reliability in Portales , New Mexico, after record cold weather in the early months of 2011 stressed sections of the city’s distribution system.

In response, Xcel Energy officials teamed with Portales civic and business leaders and began a series of electrical system projects to fix the issues – while further increasing the capacity of the system to handle additional customers as the local economy expands.

“Our system prior to the upgrades was well designed and met the needs for the time in which it was built,” said David Essex, manager for community and economic development in the Clovis-Portales area. “But as we add more customers, and as customers increase the amount of power they use, it is critical that we invest in these upgrades to ensure the reliability of the system now and for years to come.” Essex praised a group of city officials and area businessmen and businesswomen who met with Xcel Energy shortly after the 2011 winter outages.

“Their input not only called attention to an existing problem, but also helped us design a better system,” Essex said.

Company officials were in Portales last week to update city leaders on the projects, which are now complete.

Key elements of the project were:

  • Upgrading approximately 70 residential and commercial blocks from 4.16 kilovolt service to 12.47 kV service.
  • Redistribution of customer load on existing 4.16 kV system.
  • Installation of more switches for greater system flexibility.
  • Upgrade of the distribution feeder line along Lime Street.
  • Replacement of six substation circuit breakers, which increases capacity and allows them to accommodate additional load.