Over the past several years, Colorado’s “New Energy Economy” has been a primary focus for advancing the state both fiscally, as well as environmentally.
As a result, Colorado has become a nationwide hub for renewable energy, advancements in clean energy technology and gains in energy efficiency.
In order to keep this economic engine moving, the “highway” system it depends on needs to keep pace. This “highway” system is the state’s transmission infrastructure.
Without upgrades to the Colorado’s existing transmission infrastructure, as well as the development of new lines to address load constraints and reliability, the journey for Colorado’s “New Energy Economy” could face a number of road blocks.
Tri-State’s Board of Directors recently approved the association’s 2010 capital construction budget which includes $142 million in transmission investments to serve member loads and support system reliability. Tri-State’s 10-year capital outlook for transmission estimates $1.9 billion in investments to ensure it can meet needs across the four-state service territory.
Two projects currently being proposed in the state attempt to address growth in population and the state’s agriculture industry; reliability concerns; and the facilitation of renewable energy development.
Recently, a partnership involving San Isabel Electric, San Luis Valley Rural Electric, Tri-State and Xcel Energy completed public meetings to solicit input on a proposed transmission project important to reliability in Colorado.
The Southern Colorado Transmission Improvements Project would stretch from Alamosa to Walsenburg, then north to Pueblo. It’s needed to increase reliability, serve growing electricity needs and provide interconnection for renewable energy resources.
Currently, Tri-State is working with the Rural Utilities Service to conduct an environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Tri-State also is proposing a new project to construct a 230-kilovolt (kV) transmission line from the Farmington area in northwest New Mexico to Ignacio, Colorado in La Plata County.
The transmission line will increase load serving capabilities for residential, small business and industrial electric consumers, resulting in a major improvement for the overall power delivery infrastructure in the four-million acre San Juan Basin. In addition, the line will relieve transmission constraints and provide a new gateway for renewable energy development in the region.
Tri-State recognizes the importance of a reliable and efficient transmission infrastructure to help facilitate the delivery of affordable and reliable power to its 1.2 million consumers; and will continue to invest in new transmission to support reliability and facilitate renewable energy development.