Rio Grande Power Plant History

In the 1920’s, the communities of West Texas and Southern New Mexico were expanding rapidly and with this expansion came the need for more electricity. El Paso Electric rose to the challenge and built a new power station to supplement the existing generating facility at the Santa Fe Station.

Rio Grande Power Plant

The new power station, completed in November 1929, was named the Rio Grande Power Station. The plant was built in what was then called El Paso’s upper valley, now Sunland Park, New Mexico. The name was befitting of the location of its construction since the power station was built on the border of the Rio Grande River on what had been thought to be the Texas side. As a result of a meandering river and eventual legislation in the United States Congress, El Paso Electric’s property where the power station is sited was deeded to New Mexico.

  Power sign at Rio Grande PlantOver its history, the power station, which was originally built to meet the needs of a population totaling 162,000, has undergone various expansions and upgrades. Today, the power station generates a combined 340 MWs from four units. The fuel for converting water into steam is primarily natural gas. The cooling water supply source has changed from inlet water systems from the canals to well water supply sources.