Xcel Energy upgrades system

Xcel's back up generator installed earlier this week could prevent the kind of long losses of power Tucumcari experienced in June 2011.

QCS photo: Thomas Garcia

Crews work Saturday to prepare the mounting brackets which will hold the diesel powered turbine which will act as a back up system for Tucumcari in the event of an extended outage.

A generator was installed Monday by Xcel power company's crew as part of a back up power system for Tucumcari.

Xcel spokesman Wes Reeves said transmission lines between Clovis and Tucumcari are exposed and susceptible to being damaged by fire or weather, as it was in June of 2011, when customers in Tucumcari lost service for almost six hours.

He said if those lines were damaged resulting in an extended outage, then the new power station would be activated.

The generator was placed at the company's Campbell Street substation in north Tucumcari, said Wes Reeves, Xcel spokesman.

Reeves said the generator is part of a back up power system which will also include a 23 megawatts combustion turbine that will be moved from it's existing facility at Borger, Texas, later this month.

He said the turbine will generate enough electricity to meet the demand of the entire city if the main transmission line fails, said Wes Reeves, Xcel spokesman.

Reeves said the turbine will be fueled by low-sulfur transportation diesel and will be operating by late spring.

It will used as a back up power system for Tucumcari and during peak use to aid in Xcel power generation, said Alan Davidson, director of regional capital projects for Xcel Energy.

The $15.8 million project will l provide a short-term economic boost to the community through the construction of the plant, said Mike McLeod, Xcel's regional manager for community and economic development.

McLeod said in the long term, the power station will help stabilize the city's power infrastructure.

Davidson said residents should know that the system is primarily for backup when there is a long-term interruption to the power grid. He said it would not be fired up if there was a short-term blackout caused by a storm.

Davidson said Xcel Energy knew the previous power facility once located in downtown Tucumcari had not been used for several years because of the age and condition of the generators. He said generating equipment from the plant could not meet the power demands of the city which is why it was removed and the facility was demolished.

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