New Mexico utility PNM has agreed to acquire the Western Spirit transmission project from Pattern Development.

Pattern and the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (NM RETA) have been co-developing the transmission project, which is scheduled to be online in 2021, since Pattern acquired it from Clean Line Energy Partners last May along with an associated wind asset, the 1 GW Mesa Canyons project, in New Mexico (PFR, 4/55/21).

The proposed 140-mile 345 kV transmission line will carry generation from wind-rich central New Mexico to the existing grid of the Public Service Co. of New Mexico on the western side of Albuquerque.

PNM has agreed to acquire it for $285 million once it is complete, assuming the deal is approved by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The utility says the investment will be funded through an "incremental rate" to be paid by an affiliate of Pattern Development, as a wholesale transmission customer of PNM.

The Mesa Canyons wind project that Pattern bought along with Western Spirit is located in Lincoln County, at one end of the proposed transmission line.

Clean Line’s sale of Western Spirit and Mesa Canyons last year was part of its strategy to focus exclusively on its $2.3 billion, 780-mile Grain Belt Express project (PFR, 7/26).

Invenergy agreed to acquire Grain Belt last November, and the project received approvals from Missouri regulators in March. It will deliver power from Western Kansas to load centers in PJM Interconnection.

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