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Palomas Substation

Several of the substations and distribution lines that deliver power to neighborhoods and businesses in and around the far northeast part of Albuquerque are beyond safe sustainable operating limits. Due to increasing electrical demands in the north Albuquerque area, and in an effort to continue to provide customers with safe and reliable power, PNM will be constructing new facilities that provide for these new loads as well as future electric demand. The facilities will include an electrical substation, called Palomas Substation, and a transmission line necessary to properly serve these areas. The 115kV transmission line will connect Palomas Substation with the existing transmission system, and the length of the new line will be approximately one mile in. 

The new substation will be located at the southwest corner of Paseo del Norte Frontage Road NE and Browning NE. The substation will connect to the existing PNM transmission line at the southwest corner of San Antonio and Eubank Boulevard, and the new double-circuit 115kV transmission line will cross Eubank diagonally just north of the intersection of San Antonio NE and Eubank NE. It will then travel north along the east side of Eubank to the Paseo del Norte Frontage Road that runs along the south side of Paseo del Norte. From there, the double-circuit line will travel east along the south side of the Paseo del Norte Frontage Road and will enter the new substation from the north. PNM plans to begin construction at the end of 2020, with the new substation and transmission lines being placed in service by the summer of 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q.  Why is PNM proposing this project?

A.  PNM has a commitment to provide safe, reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible power for customers. As more people choose to raise their families in the far north Albuquerque area, and more businesses locate there, the increase in electrical demand is also something PNM has to plan for. The three existing substations and associated distribution facilities serving the far northeast Albuquerque area are near full capacity and are increasingly at risk of failure due to electric demand in the area. Palomas Substation will have sufficient capacity to serve existing and anticipated future customers in the area.

Q.  What are the projected growth and use figures used to determine the need for the Palomas Substation in this location?

A.  PNM analyzed the electric demand in the area and determined the current and projected electric usage is driving the need for additional electric facilities to serve this area.

Q. Why was the substation not built per the timeline in the Facility Plan, Electric System Transmission and Generation (2010-2020)?

A.  The Facility Plan, Electric System Transmission and Generation (2010-2020) is a policy document used by Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque in their planning efforts. Dates and locations of projects identified in the Plan are preliminary and are subject to change by the utility, as stated in the Plan.  The proposed project delay was due to growth that did not develop as quickly as projected and by completion of a series of interim smaller fixes to address the ongoing power needs of the area. With ongoing and continuing electric load growth in the area, there are no longer any more interim fixes available. 

Q.  Why are the substation and transmission line being constructed at a location different from the Facility Plan?

A.  PNM strives to minimize the impacts to the community in locating its transmission lines, substations and associated distribution facilities.  To be effective, facilities need to be located near the customer electric usage.  This site maximizes the efficiency to serve customers in the area, and at the same time locate the substation adjacent to an existing water reservoir and other commercial facilities.

Q.  What will be the size of the proposed Palomas Substation?

A.  The proposed substation will be approximately 3.5 acres in size, and square in shape. The substation will be surrounded by a 12 foot high decorative block wall.  The remainder of the property outside the wall will be landscaped.

Q.  What is the current zoning for the proposed substation location?

A. Zoning for the proposed substation location is SD-RO (Sector Development – Residential, Office and Institutional uses). The project will require a Special Use Permit from Bernalillo County.

Q. How will the proposed substation be accessed?

A. Access to the proposed substation will be from the Frontage Road south of Paseo del Norte Blvd.

Q. Why is the transmission line along Eubank Boulevard?

A. Eubank Boulevard is a principal arterial street designated by Bernalillo County and the Mid Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) in the Futures 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. Arterial streets are the preferred location for transmission lines as directed by the Facility Plan adopted by Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque.

Q. Are you the only company that uses the electric structures?

A. Multiple users, such as Comcast and Zayo, attach to the distribution and transmission poles throughout the city and the county. These facilities will have to be reattached to the transmission and distribution structures.

Q. What will the new transmission line look like?

A. Approximately 15 structures will be installed along the 1 mile transmission line route. In order to meet national safety standards for transmission line structures that also carry distribution lines on them, each structure will be approximately 85 above grade and will be spaced approximately 500 feet apart.

Q. What would happen with the existing distribution line?

A. The existing distribution line will be attached to transmission structures. The transmission structure will have the ability to hold another arm for an additional distribution line in the future to serve growth in the area. Typically, distribution poles will be located between the transmission structures at a lower height.

Q.  Can the lines going to the substation be placed underground?

A.  Many factors go into the decision to underground distribution and transmission facilities including, but not limited to, cost and adequate space to construct. PNM must ensure its investments are cost effective and prudent (NMSA 1978, §62-3-1). The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) directs PNM to provide reasonable and proper service at reasonable cost. PNM must maintain reliability while providing service at reasonable cost.

Q. Do 115 kV transmission lines create audible sound and interfere with cell service?

A. 115kV transmission lines do not create audible sound and do not cause interference with cell phones. Higher voltage lines than 115kV do emit sound associated with the corona effect.  

Q. What are the concerns regarding associations with high-voltage transmission lines?

A.  While EMF research continues, to date, it has not been established that exposure to 60 cycle magnetic fields cause any adverse human health effects. It follows that there are no science-based exposure limits; however, where limits have been set, such as occupational exposure (workers) versus the general public, those limits are typically in the range of 4,200 mG for occupational exposure and 2,000 mG for the general public. Both of these limits are from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation (ICNIRP). In most office, school or residential settings, the 60 cycle magnetic fields are much lower than the general public exposure limit. You can read more in this informational document written by the Electric Power Research Institute.  

Q. What is the estimated cost of the project?

A. As proposed, the estimated cost of the project is $20 million. For an overhead line, all of the customers in the PNM service area will pay for it. For an underground line in Bernalillo County, only the customers in unincorporated Bernalillo County will pay for the differential cost between overhead and underground construction per NMPRC Rate Rider 22.

Click here to view the presentation from the Community Working Group meeting on August 27, 2019.

Click here to view images of the display boards that were present during the June Community Open House.