PNM upgrades major substation to improve reliability for customers in New Mexico

Ciff substation after renovations. Credit: PNM

Substations play an integral role in getting power to neighborhoods around the PNM service area. These facilities bring electricity from transmission lines and convert it into a lower voltage that can be safely delivered to homes and businesses. To be most effective, substations are typically located in or near the areas they serve. As substation equipment gets older, PNM maintains and performs upgrades as needed, as part of our responsibility to maintain safe and reliable operation of the electric grid. Recently, a major upgrade was completed on a substation in Cliff, NM.

Former Cliff Substation prior to renovations. Credit: PNM.

The Cliff substation had equipment that no longer met the current PNM voltage standards for these electrical facilities. The equipment was aging and residents in the area were experiencing some reliability issues. The substation serves a little over 500 PNM customers near Cliff, NM, and these upgrades were imperative for PNM to better serve those customers, as well as any new customers that may move into the area.

With the upgrade PNM replaced 100% of the old equipment. The utility used enclosed skids because of the remote location of the facility, which will help better protect the equipment and keep animals out, which can cause damage and outages. The upgraded substation now has redundancy, which means if this substation experiences an outage for any reason, PNM has the ability to reroute power within the facility to minimize the time customers could experience an outage while crews work on any needed repairs, it said.

Further, the upgrades mean that the substation will have enhanced information-sharing capabilities with the PNM Distribution Operations Center (DOC), which monitors the entire PNM distribution system 24/7/365 from Albuquerque. This means that DOC should be able to detect interruptions in real time, and potentially make fast decisions or actions that can help improve outage times for customers in that area.

The green color of the equipment was chosen to help the facility better blend into its natural surroundings in the area.

Cliff Substation before and after renovations were completed. Credit: PNM.

“At PNM we take our responsibility to proactively upgrade and replace aging infrastructure very seriously,” said Camille Jones, project manager with PNM. “Substations are an important component to allowing us to serve customers with safe and reliable power, and this project will help us to better serve customers in the Cliff, NM area.”

Construction for this project started in mid-January of 2021 and the new substation was officially energized in May of 2021.

PNM serves over 530,000 customers in dozens of communities across New Mexico.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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