Xcel to invest $557M in New Mexico, West Texas

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News,Business,New Mexico,Texas

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — Xcel Energy has plans to invest $557 million in new transmission lines and substations to feed the growing economies of eastern New Mexico and West Texas.

Demand for electricity in the region is expected to continue growing significantly because of booms in the oilfields and the mining industry.

"The growth we're seeing in New Mexico and West Texas is unprecedented," said David Hudson, president and CEO of Southwestern Public Service Company, a subsidiary of Xcel. "As a partner in this region's economic success, we're committing a huge amount of capital to sustain this growth well into the future."

The plan calls for adding some 400 miles of high-voltage lines and building 12 new substations. Some of the projects were identified in a regional study and recently approved by the Southwest Power Pool, which oversees the reliability of the grid in an eight-state region that includes New Mexico and Texas.

In addition to the projects announced by Xcel this week, the electric provider already has plans for 240 miles of new distribution lines that will carry electricity straight to customers in southeastern New Mexico's Lea and Eddy counties.

Xcel spokesman Wes Reeves tells the Hobbs News Sun (http://bit.ly/19NMSEn ) that local customers may see some small hikes in their electricity bills over the next several years.

"The area customers won't pay the total amount for these investments," he said. "Over time, the recovery of our share of the costs will come out of customers' rates. ... yes, these investments do cost money, but they are there to serve the economy, but we believe they will stimulate the economy even further."

Xcel plans to handle its expanded infrastructure by adding more employees in New Mexico and by partnering with community leaders.

The Carlsbad Department of Development is among Xcel's partners. John Waters, the organization's executive director, said if there is no infrastructure to power the growing economy, business could go elsewhere.

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