New Mexico Regulators Approve Western Spirit Transmission Line

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PNM, the wholly owned New Mexico utility subsidiary of PNM Resources, has received approval from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) to acquire the Western Spirit transmission project from an affiliate of Pattern Energy Group 2 LP (Pattern Development) and the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (NM RETA).

The acquisition was previously approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, including approval of PNM’s requested incremental wholesale transmission rate.

“We are pleased that this project has received the required regulatory approvals and continues to move forward,” says Pat Vincent-Collawn, PNM Resources’ chairman, president and CEO. “We remain proud to be part of this project with Pattern and NM RETA and to expand our transmission grid in support of renewable investments that bring new construction jobs and tax revenues to the state and to improve our ability to make New Mexico a leader in clean energy.”

Pursuant to the May 1, 2019, agreement among the parties, NM RETA and Pattern Development will develop and construct the Western Spirit transmission project, which will be acquired by PNM upon completion of construction for a net investment of $285 million.

PNM expects the project to be completed in 2021. Notably, the capacity additions will strengthen the existing PNM system and provide upgrades to accommodate 800 MW of new wind energy.

“Today’s favorable ruling by the New Mexico PRC will help New Mexico unlock its world-class wind resources, and it means Pattern Development is on track to create hundreds of construction jobs next year with a major wind and transmission build-out that is deeply in line with the goals of the Energy Transition Act,” says Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy and Pattern Development. “This sound decision will keep the state on a path toward becoming a national leader in clean energy. We believe in New Mexico, and we look forward to continued investment and to being part of the economic fabric of the state for years to come.”

Western Resource Advocates says the decision could create new opportunities for wind energy availability in Arizona, California and New Mexico.

“The new transmission line should be good news for Arizona utilities, where price-competitive wind options are more limited,” explains Ken Wilson, an engineering fellow with Western Resource Advocates. “Arizona has excellent solar resources but a limited wind resource – which is not as competitive in price as the wind that is available in New Mexico. This new transmission line can be used by utilities in Arizona and California to bring New Mexico’s strong wind resources to customers.”

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