Xcel Energy is pursuing $65 million in power grid upgrades in Bailey and Lamb counties aimed at relieving overloaded lines and accommodating future economic expansion in the region.
Xcel announced on Monday that it has filed its upgrade plan with the Public Utility Commission of Texas for consideration in the near future in hopes of having new infrastructure in service within four years.
Kasey Coker, director of economic development for the Muleshoe Economic Development Corporation, said she was encouraged by Xcel’s investment in the region, which has seen its share of growth in recent years, including the ongoing development of a $250-million-plus dairy facility in Littlefield. The Continental Dairy Facilities and Select Milk Producers project began in 2016 and was expected to be completed later this year, according to an announcement from the dairy companies.
“We’re hopeful this will help create more opportunities or even just allow our current industries more opportunities to grow,” Coker said.
According to Xcel, the proposed Bailey-New Amherst-Lamb 115-kilovolt Transmission Line Project calls for 40 to 50 miles of new 115- kilovolt transmission line between the existing Bailey County Substation located near Muleshoe and the existing Lamb County Substation near Littlefield. The project also includes expanding the Lamb County Substation, adding a new substation called New Amherst, and expanding Xcel’s Sudan Rural Substation and the Bailey County Pump Station.
The new line and associated substation upgrades are planned to be in service in March 2022. Total cost, including lower-voltage distribution line upgrades, is expected to be approximately $65 million.
“We continue to see strong growth in these counties, and this investment in the electrical facilities that serve the area is indicative of this growth and our faith in the future of South Plains communities,” Steve Deaton, Xcel Energy’s regional manager for Community and Economic Development in Lubbock, said in a statement.
Xcel’s news release on Monday explains that transmission lines transport electricity from power sources into towns, cities and industrial areas while substations transform electricity to lower voltages and send them along distribution lines that are located up and down city streets and alleys.
The Bailey-New Amherst-Lamb project is part of a larger effort known as “Power for the Plains” that aimed at enhancing the power grid across all of Xcel Energy’s Texas and New Mexico service area. The utility already has invested in more than 800 miles of new transmission lines and more than 30 new substations across its Texas-New Mexico service area since 2011, along with upgrades to another 40 existing substations.
On Friday, Xcel announced the PUC agreed to advance the company’s plan to add 1,230 megawatts of additional wind energy to the regional generating mix.
Construction on the 478-megawatt Hale Wind Project is expected to begin in June, the A-J reported last week. The Sagamore Wind Project near Portales, New Mexico, which was approved by the state in March, will begin construction in 2019.