Rebecca Eminger compares her consenting to allow Southwestern Public Service Company to survey her land east of town on New Mexico 88 to opening a floodgate of problems.
Eminger, 65, fears this one step will eventually lead to the condemnation of less than 6 acres of her land as a result of an eminent domain proceeding for SPS’ Portales to Kilgore Project, which involves the construction of a 115-kilovolt electric transmission line.
She was one of eight landowners who came before 9th Judicial District Court Judge Drew Tatum on Tuesday to argue good cause for why SPS should not be allowed access to their land in order to survey for the project.
Michael Eaton,and Sam Rigsby review the route of the
proposed SouthwesternPublic Service Company
energy transmission line Tuesday
The result of the trial was in favor of SPS for all eight properties.
“It sounds like a done deal,” said Eminger to Tatum. “If they put those lines on my property, it will inhibit our ability to live.”
Though Tatum often sympathized with the landowners and their concerns about the project, he made it clear that this hearing was for the sole purpose of allowing entry to their property.
He said their arguments would be more appropriate for future condemnation hearings, which would allow owners to present an argument as to how the construction of the line would affect them, most of them arguing that they would not be able to sell it once a portion of it is condemned, which is the process of taking the property through eminent domain. Property owners would be compensated SPS for the property.
Kelly Thompson, Xcel Energy’s siting and land rights agent, said the Portales to Kilgore Project must take place in order to ensure reliability to their Portales customers.
“The Portales area is overloaded,” Thompson said. “The project will increase the amount of power.”
The line would be built from a proposed substation on Kilgore Street and will wrap around the city east of Portales to SPS’ other substation.
But landowner Lois Coats argued that the landowners are not customers of SPS and they will not receive any of the power.
She and many others felt there was a lack of communication on SPS’ part to educate them on how this process will be carried out and the route of the line.
Michael and Meredith Eaton told Tatum the land SPS wants to survey on their property is part of an orchard with sprinklers every 30 feet.
Their concern was that damage could be incurred during the survey of their property, in which Tatum ordered a $2,000 bond cash or surety of SPS as insurance for possible damage.
At the end of the trial, Tatum said SPS will have to coordinate with the landowners as to when they can survey their property.
He also asked that there be stronger channels of communication between both groups and asked SPS to explain to landowners what will be done on their property, citing that communication had not been the best prior to this hearing.