RAPID/BulkTransmission/New Mexico/Land Access

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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

New Mexico Bulk Transmission Land Access(3-NM)

Location Permit and Determination of Right-of-Way

New Mexico has a state-administered siting act for high-voltage transmission lines.[1] New Mexico Public Regulations Commission (NMPRC) is responsible for approving the location of the proposed high-voltage transmission line by issuing a Location Permit.[2] Furthermore, if a ROW width of more than 100 feet is required, the proponent must also seek a Determination of Right-of-Way Width from the NMPRC.[3]

Once the NMPRC receives the application, a public hearing is scheduled to meet the requirements of New Mexico Statutes 62-10-1 through 16 which regulate public hearings. The NMPRC will provide the applicant with a 20 day notice of the date, time, and location of the hearing.[4] The applicant must be in compliance with all applicable air and water quality pollution control standards and regulations.[5] The NMPRC will issue its decision within 6 months of the application filing. The NMPRC may extend their decision by 10 months to determine if the location of the proposed transmission line will impair environmental values.[6]

No Location Permit may be approved by NMPRC that violates an existing state, county, or municipal land use statutory or administrative regulation unless NMPRC finds that the regulation is "unreasonably restrictive and not in the interest of the public convenience and necessity."[7]

A project proponent cannot start construction for a transmission line with a ROW width greater than 100 feet without first obtaining approval from the NMPRC for a Determination of Right-of-Way Width, if the ROW width is not otherwise agreed to by the parties. The process for approval of a Determination of Right-of-Way Width requires a public hearing, and any property owners along the ROW shall be notified, 20 days prior to the hearing. After the public hearing, the commission can issue their decision on the ROW width. If the decision is not issued within 6 months of the application submittal, the application will be deemed approved.[8] Public utilities have eminent domain rights.[9]

Developers must also seek a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN)from the NMPRC. The process for obtaining a CPCN can occur concurrently with Location Permit and Determination of Right-of-Way Width application processes.

New Mexico State Lands Office Permits

The New Mexico State Land Office manages New Mexico State Land Trust land. These lands include those held in trust for the benefit of public schools and universities. Easements are granted on trust land upon receipt of a ROW easement lease.

Right of Way

Developers must obtain right of way (ROW) easements from the NMSLO for construction or other activities on or over state lands. Only upon issuance of a ROW easement may the developer begin construction within the area defined for the ROW based on the terms and conditions of the grant. [10] Developers are required to survey the plan area prior to applying for ROW easements. [11] The developer must apply to the Commissioner for ROW easements which requires payment of fees and bonding. [12]

Temporary Access

Developers must obtain a Temporary Access Permit by submitting a NMSLO Right of Entry Request for access over trust lands not within the actual dimension of ROW easements. Temporary Access Permits allow the developer to complete the necessary assessments for obtaining a ROW easement. These permits allow access beyond ROWs for activities such as maintenance, repair, or improvement of the right of way easement. [13]

Highway Utility Accommodation and Highway Access

Developers must obtain approval from the NMLSO or the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) if project construction or activities will encroach on existing state ROWs. Developers must obtain a Public Highway Utility Accommodation Permit in order to construct, adjust or relocate any facilities for the carriage, transmission, or distribution of electric power within NMDOT ROWs. To obtain Accommodation Permits, developers must submit an NMDOT Application for Permit to Install Utility Facilities Within Public ROW. The permitting process is detailed and requires submittal of comprehensive plans, environmental and archaeological clearances, and proof of insurance. [14]

Developers seeking to construct or modify any temporary or permanent vehicular access to or from any state highway must submit a NMDOT Application for Permit to Construct an Access or Median Opening on Public Right of Way. For approval, the developer must provide proof of ownership of the property with a platted survey and a traffic control plan. [15]

Local Process
Land use permits are required for each local government associated with the transmission lines, however, regulations vary. No Location Permit may be approved by NMPRC that violates an existing state, county, or municipal land use statutory or administrative regulation unless NMPRC finds that the regulation is "unreasonably restrictive and not in the interest of the public convenience and necessity.[7] Under state law, New Mexico counties and municipalities are given zoning authority to regulate and restrict the use of land within its jurisdiction lines.[16] State statutes give local governments (counties and municipalities) the authorization to adopt zoning ordinances. A county zoning authority may adopt a zoning ordinance applicable to all or any portion of the territory within the county that is not within the zoning jurisdiction of a municipality.[17] A municipal zoning authority may adopt a zoning ordinance applicable to the territory within the municipal boundaries.[17]

The requirements and permits needed for construction of an electric transmission line vary by county and municipality. Some or all of the following elements as they relate to land access may be necessary:

  • Above and below ground utility permit
  • Road access permit
  • Road maintenance agreement
  • County building permit
  • ROW permits
  • Conditional Use Permit/Special Use Permit

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

New Mexico Federal

Leasing Agency: New Mexico State Land Office

Contact Information

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List of Reference Sources

  1. N.M.S. 62-13-1 (2013).
  2. N.M.S. 62-9-3 (2013).
  3. N.M.S. 62-9-3.2 (2013).
  4. N.M.S. 62-10-5 (2013).
  5. N.M.S. 62-9-3 (2013). E
  6. N.M.S. 62-9-3 (2013). I
  7. 7.0 7.1 N.M.S. 62-9-3 (2013). G
  8. N.M.S. 62-9-3.2 (2013). F
  9. N.M.S. 62-1-4 (2013).
  10. Chapter 19 NMSA Article 7 (1978). 57
  11. Chapter 19 NMAC Part 2.10 (2004). 12
  12. Chapter 19 NMAC Part 2.10 (2004). 18
  13. Chapter 19 NMAC Part 2.10 (2004). 17
  14. Chapter 17 NMAC Part 4.2 (2001).
  15. Chapter 18 NMAC Part 31.6 (2001).
  16. N.M.S. 3-21-1 (2013).
  17. 17.0 17.1 N.M.S. 3-21-2 (2013).
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