Three-year transmission project wrapping up on schedule

The last five miles of underground power cable was installed earlier summer for the Nucla-Sunshine transmission project completed this fall.

The three-year, 51-mile, 115-kilovolt Nucla-Sunshine transmission line project will soon be providing an improved level of service and reliability to the Telluride mountain village area and other nearby communities in southwestern Colorado.

“Construction of the line and its ancillary substations is done and Tri-State’s west-side maintenance personnel are now on site engaged in commissioning activities before the line is energized this fall,” said Pat Dille, transmission project manager.

Dille said that they expect to energize the line by the end of this month or the early part of November in time for the peak wintertime season at this world famous ski resort, which is electrically served by Tri-State member San Miguel Power Association (Nucla, Colo.).

The new line replaced a more than 60-year old, 69-kilovolt line that was owned by San Miguel Power. This antiquated line was no longer adequate to serve the electrical requirements of the Telluride area in the event that its primary 115-kilovolt line failed due to avalanche or other extreme weather events.

The 51-mile Nucla-Sunshine transmission line will boost reliability to the Telluride area when it becomes operational at the end of this month.

This line is unique to Tri-State’s transmission system because approximately 10 miles of the new 115-kV power cable was placed underground in order to satisfy landowners’ concerns. Those concerns and other siting issues delayed the construction of this project for more than a decade.

The scope of the project’s construction activities, which began in 2010, involved the trenching and installation of 10 miles of underground power cable on Wilson and Specie mesas and 41 miles of overhead line construction across rugged high country terrain that required some specialized engineering and helicopter work where, in several cases, the line spanned across canyons that are nearly a half-mile wide.

In addition, the new line and upgraded service required the construction of two new substations and extensive modifications at two existing substations.

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