Transmission Lines:

Creating a Highway for Clean Energy

New Mexico is Wind Rich but Transmission Line Scarce

New Mexico is uniquely positioned to power the West and create significant economic development for our state in the process. Some of the most consistent and powerful wind for generating clean energy exists throughout the central and eastern part of our state. However, the areas where wind is the best are also the areas that are the least populated and where the existing electrical transmission grid does not extend. In order for New Mexico to realize its great opportunity to generate and export renewable energy to the West, we need high capacity transmission highways to deliver renewable energy to those who can use it and are ready to buy. 

Transmission Lines in New Mexico

Creating a Highway for Clean Energy

Just as a car takes you to work, the gym, a shopping mall and your house, transmission lines do the same for renewable energy. Transmission lines are the highways needed to transport and deliver solar and wind generated energy to the same everyday places that you visit. They enable renewable energy that is generated in New Mexico to be used around the state and around the country. 

In Development

Rio Sol

Project Scope: Transmission Line: 550 miles (~350 miles in New Mexico), 500 kV alternating current line (Co-located with SunZia Transmission Line)

Capacity: 1,500 MW. Enough to power 500,000 homes

Investment: Rio Sol and RETA are co-developers on the project that will cost $1.3 billion, with an executed lease agreement dated 7/15/2022

Anticipated Date of Operation: 2028

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Project Scope: Transmission Line: 550 miles (~350 miles in New Mexico), 525 kV HVDC

Capacity: 3,000 MW, enough to power 1 million homes

Investment: SunZia and RETA are co-developers on the project that will cost $1.8 billion in New Mexico, with an executed Lease Agreement dated 3/15/21 guiding this public-private partnership.

Financial Benefit:
In New Mexico, increased employment of 1,802 jobs, income to landowners, and increased tax revenues for state and local governments estimated to be $7.1 million (2021 Moss-Adams economic impact report).

Anticipated Operational Date: 2025

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Project Scope: Transmission Line: 400 Mile, proposed 525kV HVDC

Capacity: 4,000 MW, enough to power up to 2 million homes

Investment: RETA and Invenergy Transmission are co-developers of the project

Financial Benefit: Increased employment, income to landowners, and increased tax revenues for state and local government. Has the potential to unlock additional investment in New Mexico renewable generation.

Anticipated Operational Date: 2028

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Mora LINE Project

Project Scope:
Two Transmission Line Segments:
48 miles, 345 kV transmission line
66 miles, 115 kV transmission line

182 MW, enough to power 50,000 homes

RETA and Lucky Corridor, LLC are co-developers of the $83 million project

Financial Benefit: Increased employment, income to landowners and increased tax revenues for state and local governments.

Anticipated Operational Date: End of 2024

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CURRENTLY Operational

High Lonesome Mesa

Project Scope: Transmission upgrade and 100 MW wind farm, 32 miles, 115 kV

Capacity: 100 MW, enough to power 30,000 homes

Investment: RETA issued $50 million in revenue bonds for transmission upgrades

Economic Benefit: $14 million in property taxes to Torrance County & Estancia Schools over 30 years. $19 million in lease payments to local landowners

Operational Date: 2010

western spirit

Project Scope: Transmission Line: 155 miles, 345 kV

800 MW, enough to power 590,000 homes

RETA and Pattern Energy are co-developers of the $150 million project

Financial Benefit:
$28 million property taxes to NM counties over first 40 years

Operational Date: 2021

Transmission Lines 101

Transmission Lines Make Our Modern Society Possible

Electrical transmission towers and lines are critical but often overlooked structures that allow electricity to be delivered when and where it is needed. Transmission lines move electricity from where it is generated to an electrical substation, which then distributes it to homes and businesses. In the United States, the thousands of transmission lines collectively make up “the National Grid.” Electric reliability is enhanced by this interconnected grid which allows for alternative paths for serving customers from various electric generating facilities throughout the country. Transmission lines are generally characterized as high voltage lines (generally over 100 kV) that extend over long distances from remote areas of generation to where homes and business customers are located. The lines are supported via tall overhead transmission towers, while lower voltage electricity is eventually distributed to homes and businesses using shorter towers which support overhead lines or via underground lines.

How Transmission Lines Effect People and Wildlife

The effect on people

The health effects of transmission lines have been a concern of many people. In 1999 the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council stated, “that the current body of evidence does not show that the exposure to magnetic fields presents a human health hazard”. However, even though there is no direct evidence, every new transmission line proposed is designed to meet state and national codes that keep these facilities at a sufficient distance from existing buildings and facilities to maintain health safety for people.

The effect on wildlife

In the planning stages for the licensing and siting transmission lines, habitats critical to the survival of a species, especially those of endangered or threatened species are avoided wherever possible.  A variety of mitigation measures are used to reduce or eliminate negative effects of construction including establishing buffer zones around sensitive habitat areas or scheduling construction activities when they will be least disruptive.  

There is the possibility of bird collisions with any manmade obstacle, including transmission lines. Avoidance of critical areas of bird concentrations is the most effective mitigation measure to reduce bird strike mortality. Bird diverters and devices are deployed where possible and are increasingly being shown to reduce collisions.  

Although both electric and magnetic fields (EMF) are present near transmission lines, numerous research programs have studied the effects of EMF on wild and domesticated animals resulting in no deleterious health effects on animals.

We are Blessed With Resources and Poised for Greatness

New Mexicans have much to take pride in regarding its natural resources. Our state's beauty is world renowned, and we have a unique opportunity to become a nationwide leader in renewable energy generation. Now is the time to invest in the transmission infrastructure needed to deliver our renewable energy for in-state usage and export to nearby states that will benefit our state for decades to come.