Electrical transmission lines are needed to move energy from its source to the customer. These lines can and should be constructed to provide a win-win solution for producer, consumer, and those along the way. Pattern Development’s proposed path for its "Western Spirit" project of enormous transmission towers, lines and right of way imposes a win-lose situation. The company wins and New Mexicans lose, especially those living along or near its path.
New Mexicans lose because our NM Constitution is trampled upon. The Rural Electric Transmission Authority (RETA) is administering this project as a governmental entity for the sole purpose of turning it over to a private entity (Public Service Company of New Mexico). This violates Article IX Section 14 of the NM Constitution, the anti-donation clause, which clearly states that “[n]either the state nor any county, school district or municipality, except as otherwise provided in this constitution, shall directly or indirectly lend or pledge its credit or make any donation to or in aid of any person, association or public or private corporation [ ].”
The people of Socorro and Valencia Counties lose by virtue of Pattern Development’s stated decision to use the “path of least resistance.” Our low-income population will bear the burdens of this project, without benefit, so that urban more wealthy persons will not. The proposed 140 mile path could easily be shortened to approximately 61 miles if it went from the Pajarito station via I-40 and thus still provide the producers with a means to market their product.
All Americans lose when the State’s power of eminent domain is employed or even threatened to be employed. Much like a menacing thug looming in the background of some negotiation, the State can legally threaten to take the property of unwilling rural and poorer individuals without their consent. Some residents will elect to sell their property or the right of way of their own volition, but the majority who won't should not be intimidated by this frightening power when more reasonable alternatives are available.
On September 24th the Socorro County Commission heard from project representatives and concerned residents. The many residents who commented pointed out that the proposed transmission line with its substantial right of way will irreparably and permanently despoil the natural beauty and vistas of its crossing path; render useless or otherwise endanger the flight path of two private airplane landing strips; create an undetermined hazard to migratory geese, cranes and other birds; impose economic loss to residents by lessened migratory-related tourism and property values; render some unknown level of environmental and safety hazard for residents and their livestock due to initial and ongoing right of way clearance activity and electro-magnetic field effects; seriously degrade the preferred rural quality of life enjoyed by those affected; and will not result in lower electrical rates since power is supplied by Tri-State, not PNM.
For these reasons the Socorro County commissioners unanimously oppose the Western Spirit Transmission Line Project. The Board calls on RETA and Pattern Development to abandon their ill-conceived and damaging path and re-route the line to create a win-win solution for all involved.
Chair, Socorro County Commission