Bernalillo Co. denies PNM substation in northeast heights


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Neighbors have pushed back on a proposed PNM substation in the northeast heights area for more than a year and their efforts have paid off. PNM was trying to put the new substation in the area and it would’ve had transmission lines connect to nearby towers. Neighbors were worried about property values, health risks, and losing those mountain views. However, at a Bernalillo County Commissioner’s meeting, the plan didn’t get approved.

When KRQE News 13 spoke with PNM in February 2020, they said the substations that are currently serving the northeast heights are beyond safe operating limits and with an increase in electrical demands, residents need a new substation. “The equipment and facilities in this area of the northeast heights of Albuquerque had reached its full capacity,” said PNM Spokesperson Meaghan Cavanaugh in February 2020.

So they wanted to place one here at Paseo and Browning which included 85-foot poles and transmission lines. However, after neighbors pushed back, saying the substation would ruin the view and could potentially be hazardous, PNM’s plans were denied. So the electric company appealed that decision at Tuesday’s Bernalillo County Commission meeting.

“What I have heard is that everybody that is opposed to the project, they’re certainly not opposed to power and they’re certainly not interested in having long-prolonged outages for days,” said a PNM representative at the meeting. But people who live in the area also spoke out, making it known that their feelings about the project haven’t changed.

“I’m asking for your assistance in helping stop this industrialization of this neighborhood by PNM,” said one resident.

“To say that we will be impacted by the sighting and the construction of the facility is an understatement,” said another resident.

Their efforts paid off. PNM was denied, once again. Following the vote, PNM sent KRQE News 13 the following statement:

“We are disappointed with the Bernalillo County Commissioners’ decision. Building this proposed substation is the right thing to do for the community in the far northeast heights of Albuquerque and is necessary to prevent prolonged or catastrophic interruption of service to customers in the area. PNM will be taking a look at our next steps and reviewing all our options over the next few days.”

PNM Spokesperson

“We are now kind of at the end state here where we need this substation as we speak,” said a PNM spokesperson during the meeting. Neighbors said they hope PNM moves on and looks elsewhere for the new substation.

“This is hardly a neighborhood substation so thank you for not overturning the planning commission’s decision,” said one neighbor. When it came down to a vote, the County Commissioners voted unanimously to deny PNM’s appeal. PNM also said that they will take a look at their option over the next few days.

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