RAPID/BulkTransmission/Transmission Siting & Interconnection/New Mexico

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Bulk Transmission Transmission Siting & Interconnection in New Mexico

Regulatory Information Overviews

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At a Glance

Jurisdiction: New Mexico

State Siting Act: New Mexico Statutes (N.M.S.) 62-9-1, 62-9-3(B), and 62-9-3.2

State Preemptive Authority No Location Permit may be approved by the New Mexico Public Regulations Commission (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. [1]

Siting/Permitting Entities: NMPRC, local municipalities

Permit/Authorization Required: Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) and Location Permit required through NMPRC. Local governments typically require planning and zoning variance and special use permits.

Triggers: CPCN approval required for public utilities, Location Permit approval required for 230kV or greater, and Determination of Right-of-Way (ROW) approval required for lines with a ROW greater than 100 feet wide. [2][3]

Application Requirements: The application for a Location Permit includes any environmental studies required by the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) or equivalent studies. [2]

Permit Processing Timeframe: 9 months (Location Permit); 6 months (ROW Determination) (the ROW determination and the Location Permit can be addressed in one application)

Contacts/Agencies: New Mexico Public Regulation Commission

General Transmission Siting & Interconnection Overview

A division between the Western and Eastern Interconnections exists in eastern New Mexico. Both of these major power grids are present in New Mexico. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Open Access Transmission Tariff (OATT) system provides a working framework for the use of the transmission system in the state. The eastern third of New Mexico’s grid is operated by Southwest Power Pool, a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), while the remainder of New Mexico’s grid is coordinated by the Western Electricity Coordinating Council and balanced by PNM. PNM collaborates with the agency WestConnect to accomplish transmission planning and reliability. Through WestConnect, PNM has joined together with utilities to the west and north to address regional and inter-regional transmission cost allocation and planning requirements. While an RTO or Independent System Operator (ISO) is not present to negotiate use of the majority of the New Mexico grid, WestConnect presently fills this gap.

The Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) is the Regional Entity responsible for coordinating and promoting Bulk Electric System reliability in the Western Interconnection, including in New Mexico. In addition, WECC provides an environment for coordinating the operating and planning activities of its members as set forth in the WECC Bylaws.

The goal of the SWAT is to promote regional planning in the Desert Southwest. The SWAT provides the technical forum required to complete reliability assessments, develop joint business opportunities and accomplish coordinated planning under the single-system planning concept in the southwest area of the WestConnect Transmission Planning area. The New Mexico Transmission Subcommittee of the SWAT was formed to study the New Mexico and Southwest Texas region.

Xcel Energy, El Paso Electric, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, PNM, and Western Area Power Administration, provide transmission in the state of New Mexico.

Renewable Energy Transmission Authority

The New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) is a quasi-state authority established to implement the Renewable Energy Act (REA). The purpose of the REA is to encourage the generation of electricity through the use of renewable energy. RETA’s main focus is to develop and finance renewable energy related transmission projects. In addition, RETA has the authority to finance, plan, maintain, and operate eligible facilities necessary or useful for the accomplishment of the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority Act, and can exercise eminent domain.

The executive branch state agency Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department is developing a State Energy Policy due to be completed in 2014.

State Transmission Siting & Interconnection Process

New Mexico has a state-administered siting act for high-voltage transmission lines.[4] The NMPRC is responsible for 1) issuing a Certificate of CPCN[5], and 2) approving the location of the proposed high-voltage transmission line by issuing a Location Permit.[1] These processes can occur concurrently. 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]

Any public utility proposing to construct or operate a new transmission line must obtain a CPCN from the NMPRC. A public utility is defined as is any person or entity not engaged solely in interstate business that owns, operates or leases a facility furnishing electricity to the public.[6] The public utility must prove that the proposed activity is in the public interest.[7] Utilities may be required to notify other public utilities per Rule 440 of the Code of Rules and Regulations of the NMPRC. The CPCN permit application process does not require a public hearing be held, if no protest is filed. The NMPRC must issue their decision on the CPCN permit within 9 months and can extend the review for an additional 6 months for good cause.

A public utility or any other person must apply to the NMPRC for a Location Permit for a new transmission line of 230kV or more prior to construction that is associated with a power plant of 300 MW or more, irrespective of whether the transmission line originates or ends within New Mexico.[8] The NMPRC would consider the following environmental concerns in approving the location of the transmission line:

  • Existing land use plans for other developments near the project area
  • Fish, wildlife and plant life
  • Noise emissions level and communication facility interference
  • Public recreation and safety
  • Scenic, religious, cultural and historic sites
  • Additional factors that require consideration under applicable federal and state laws pertaining to the location [1]

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.[9] The applicant must be in compliance with all applicable air and water quality pollution control standards and regulations.[10] 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.[11]

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."[12]

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.[13] Public utilities have eminent domain rights.[14]

Local Transmission Siting & Interconnection 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.[12] Under state law, New Mexico counties and municipalities are given zoning authority to regulate and restrict the use of land within its jurisdiction lines.[15] 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.[16] A municipal zoning authority may adopt a zoning ordinance applicable to the territory within the municipal boundaries.[16]

Policies & Regulations


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 N.M.S. 62-9-3 (2013).
  2. 2.0 2.1 N.M.S. 62-9-1 (2013).
  3. 3.0 3.1 N.M.S. 62-9-3.2 (2013).
  4. N.M.S. 62-13-1 (2013).
  5. N.M.S. 62-9-1 (2013). A
  6. N.M.S. 62-3-3 (2013). G
  7. N.M.S. 62-6-7 (2013).
  8. N.M.S. 62-9-3 (2013). B
  9. N.M.S. 62-10-5 (2013).
  10. N.M.S. 62-9-3 (2013). E
  11. N.M.S. 62-9-3 (2013). I
  12. 12.0 12.1 N.M.S. 62-9-3 (2013). G
  13. N.M.S. 62-9-3.2 (2013). F
  14. N.M.S. 62-1-4 (2013).
  15. N.M.S. 3-21-1 (2013).
  16. 16.0 16.1 N.M.S. 3-21-2 (2013).

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