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. 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 a high capacity transmission highway 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. 

High Lonesome Mesa

CURRENTLY OPERATIONAL

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

SUNZia

PROPOSED

Project scope: Transmission Line: 520 miles (315 miles in New Mexico), 500 kV

Capacity: 1,500 MW enough to power 885,000 homes

Investment: RETA is a partner through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with SunZia

Financial Benefit: $33.4 million property taxes during a 2 ½ year construction period and $4.7 million during the first year of operation of the transmission line

Anticipated Operational Date: 2020/2021

western spirit

PROPOSED

Project scope: Transmission Line: 140 miles, 345 kV

Capacity: 1,000 MW, enough to power 590,000 homes

Investment: RETA and Pattern Development are co-developers of the $150 million project

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

Anticipated Operational Date: End of 2020

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 Resource Council (NRC) 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.

Homes Powered

Power Generated (kW)

Million Invested in NM

Million for local landowners