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    Xcel Energy-Colorado gets green light for $2B transmission project


    June 10, 2022 - Judith Kohler

     

      A transmission project that Xcel Energy-Colorado said will help make way for more renewable energy on the grid has received a green light.

      Xcel Energy said in a statement Thursday that the Colorado Public Utilities Commission has approved plans for the five segments of the company's Colorado's Power Pathway, a project that will cost up to $2 billion and will upgrade the state's high-voltage transmission system.

      The PUC issued a written decision June 2.

      "This project will help us continue on our path to reducing carbon emissions in Colorado more than 85% by 2030, deliver low-cost, renewable energy, and improve the grid's resilience and reliability," said Robert Kenney, the new president of Xcel Energy-Colorado.

      The pathway will consist of loops of up to 650 miles of high-voltage transmission lines stretching from the Fort St. Vrain gas-fueled plant near Platteville and to the southeastern plains. Four new and four expanded substations are planned.

      The PUC gave conditional approval to a 90-mile extension in southeast Colorado, pending more information that is expected early next year.

      Most of Xcel Energy's wind and solar energy facilities in Colorado are on the Eastern Plains. The company, Colorado's largest electric utility, expects construction of the first segments of the transmission project to start in late 2023 and the entire line to be in service by 2027.

      "The Colorado's Power Pathway is really critical for reliable, clean energy in the state going forward. It increases the capacity to host new renewable resources in Colorado," said Gwen Farnsworth, managing senior policy adviser for the environmental group Western Resource Advocates.

      Farnsworth added that the project's design of loops will improve the distribution system's reliability and resiliency.

      Xcel Energy pledged in 2018 to produce 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. The company has proposed closing the newest coal-fired unit at its Comanche power plant in Pueblo by the start of 2031, ending its use of coal in Colorado.

      The PUC is considering a proposed electric resource plan by Xcel Energy that includes the coal-plant closure. A hearing on the plan was scheduled for Friday.

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