Colorado regulators OK Xcel Energy’s 345-kV transmission project

transmission cable installation elp

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on April 9 adopted a November 2014 recommended decision from PUC staff to approve Xcel Energy’s 345-kV Pawnee to Daniels Park transmission line project in north-central Colorado, conditioned on a delayed construction date.

In its decision, the PUC also denied Xcel Energy’s exception to the recommended decision seeking authority to move forward with construction on the substation portion of the project.

PUC staff last November recommended approving the application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity to build the $178 million, 115-mile line, conditioned on construction of the project not beginning until May 2020.

In its recommendation, staff said that the delay in the start of construction would balance the need for the project with an interest in avoiding a premature effect on customer rates. The PUC concurred, adopting the recommended decision as its own, with the condition.

The PUC said that among the factors supporting approval of the project is the need to transmit additional capacity of between 1,200 MW and 1,400 MW by 2024; the constraint on existing transmission facilities that support generation serving the Denver area; and the inability of existing transmission to support future projected generation.

The project includes construction of the new Harvest Mile substation and the 345-kV transmission line connecting the Pawnee power plant, near Brush, Colo., and the Daniels Park substation, near Castle Pines, Colo.

Xcel Energy filed an exception to the recommended decision, requesting approval to begin construction on the Harvest Mile substation prior to May 2020. The company claimed that immediate construction of the Harvest Mile substation would address a current need due to existing transmission constraints at the Smoky Hill substation. Xcel Energy also claimed that, because the Harvest Mile substation will require acquisition of property, it may be more difficult to obtain permits and land use rights if construction is delayed until 2020.

The PUC disagreed with Xcel Energy, and denied the requested exception, saying that Xcel Energy did not provide sufficient proof that there is an immediate need for the Harvest Mile substation separate from the need for the entire project.

The PUC noted that the application to begin construction on the Harvest Mile substation would determine expedited need but not specific siting or construction requirements, which would remain under the jurisdiction of the local land use agencies.

An Xcel Energy representative was not immediately available for comment on the PUC’s decision as of press time on April 10.

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