The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission unanimously approved on Tuesday Xcel Energy's plans to build a new power generating facility in Tucumcari.
The facility will be called the Quay County Generating Station and will be comprised of a single simple-cycle combustion turbine powered by diesel fuel, said Wes Reeves, Xcel spokesman.
Reeves said the station's primary purpose will be to provide 22 megawatts of standby electricity for the city, which is served by a single transmission feed. He said the city is at the end of a long line of networked power lines.
Reeves said if a major catastrophe such as a tornado or fire damages several lines, Tucumcari would be left in the dark as it was for six hours in June 2011. He said if there is a prolonged outage, Xcel can use the station and return life in Tucumcari back to normal while crews work on repairing the issue.
SPS plans to spend $15.8 million on the project at the intersection of Campbell and Fifth streets, near the north Tucumcari Campbell Substation.
Reeves said a gas turbine generator now in service at the Riverview Generating Station near Borger, Texas, will be relocated to the new facility after this summer's peak generating season. He said the generator will be converted to diesel and moved in the fall.
"The new plant will be a continuity of Xcel Energy's service and reliability to our communities, providing the city of Tucumcari with a practical, efficient backup plan," said Alice Jackson, director of regulatory administration in Amarillo.
The new generating plant will be used as a backup system only in the case of an extended outage or power shortage, said David Essex, manager for community and economic development in Clovis.
"We are grateful for the support of city and county leaders who have worked with us on this project," Essex said.
Xcel Energy's regional operating company, Southwestern Public Service Company, acquired the electricity distribution system that serves Tucumcari in 1980, along with a small diesel-fueled power plant that served the city's needs until it reached the end of its useful life.
The plant was decommissioned last year and dismantled.
An alternative generating system to replace the old plant was determined by Xcel Energy to be the most cost-effective way to provide backup service to Tucumcari.
Reeves said Xcel Energy plans to have the Quay County plant operational by summer 2013.