Tag Archive for 'Reliability'

Tri-State to assess options for SoCo transmission infrastructure

Tri-State will move forward to identify options to ensure electric system reliability following Xcel Energy’s reconsideration of its participation in a joint transmission project with the association in southern Colorado.  Xcel announced yesterday that factors affecting its resource needs require the utility to reconsider its participation in the Southern Colorado Transmission Improvements Project.

Tri-State and Xcel have been developing the project, which was approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and would meet Tri-State’s reliability requirements and Xcel’s renewable energy requirements.

“The need for reliable electric service across the San Luis Valley, south-central Colorado and northern New Mexico has not changed,” said Joel Bladow, Tri-State’s senior vice president of transmission. “Tri-State will examine all options to ensure reliable power for the region; it is premature to eliminate any options without further investigation.” Continue reading ‘Tri-State to assess options for SoCo transmission infrastructure’

Eastern Colo. transmission project would soften outages, support future generation

A planned transmission project in eastern Colorado would resolve existing reliability concerns in Tri-State’s largest load area – a region that also has the largest forecasted load growth – and meet the individual needs of its partners in one coordinated undertaking.

Click for a larger version of the Lamar-Front Range Tranmission Project study area.

The Lamar-Front Range Transmission Project, a joint effort of Tri-State and Xcel Energy, is estimated to include more than 400 miles of predominantly 345-kilovolt, double-circuit line, with one segment planned at 230-kV.

The project stemmed from a number of joint planning forums, including the Colorado Coordinated Planning Group and WestConnect, during which Tri-State and Xcel identified complementary transmission needs in southern and eastern Colorado.

Recognizing the common interests, the two electric utilities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2008 to pursue transmission projects in the southern portion of the state on a joint basis. The projects identified in the MOU would strengthen the region’s power delivery infrastructure, serve growing electricity needs and provide for the interconnection of new energy sources.

Lamar-Front Range will also encourage future development of new generation resources and facilitate the delivery of that power to the utilities’ load centers. The region has been identified as housing some of the best wind generation prospects in Colorado, but this generation is impractical without adequate transmission capacity.

The project area includes the counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Baca, Bent, Cheyenne, Crowley, Elbert, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Otero, Prowers, Pueblo and Washington.

A route has not been chosen for the project as Tri-State and Xcel are awaiting approval from the Colorado PUC regarding the need for the project. If all goes as planned, the line would be in service by 2018.

Pine beetle infestation whittling down western forests

It isn’t a pretty sight. Since the late 1990s, throughout the Rocky Mountain West, majestic high country vistas that were recently carpeted with green forests have been rapidly transformed into millions of acres of red rust and yellow-tinged dead and dying pine trees over a massive region that extends from New Mexico to British Columbia.

The culprit is a tenacious little native pest known as the mountain pine beetle that measures no larger than a pencil eraser.  But, despite its diminutive size, this insect has proven to be nearly unstoppable in its ability to chew through vast tracts of mature lodgepole, ponderosa, Scotch and limber pine trees.

Affordability message hits the airwaves

Starting today, the “We Believe In” 30-second TV spot is airing on a number of local broadcast channels, cable networks and stations in markets throughout Tri-State’s four-state member system service territory.

Across its entire enterprise, Tri-State’s initiatives and actions are focusing on the value of affordable electricity. The affordability message is being incorporated in the association’s ongoing awareness campaign in 2011, with that theme being featured in a coordinated set of television, radio and print advertising materials.

Members of Tri-State’s communications staff have been working closely with the G&T’s advertising agency over the past several weeks to develop and produce commercials and ads that illustrate the crucial, essential role affordable electricity plays in our lives, businesses, communities and the overall economy.

PUC approves SOCO transmission project without condition

A proposal by Tri-State Generation and Transmission and Xcel Energy to build a single transmission project from the San Luis Valley to Pueblo (known as the San Luis Valley – Calumet – Comanche Transmission Project) cleared an important hurdle on February 11, when state regulators determined a need for the line and rejected a condition that threatened Xcel Energy’s backing.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) did not adopt a condition recommended by an administrative law judge last November calling for a refund to ratepayers by Xcel Energy if the line does not carry 700 megawatts of new generation 10 years after completion.  Instead, the Commission gave the green light to a 150-mile, $180 million transmission line designed to bolster reliability and carry solar and wind energy from the San Luis Valley over La Veta Pass to the Front Range.

“It’s hard to vote against what some call consumer protection, but this isn’t consumer protection,” PUC chairman Ron Binz said. “It’s a backstop for a regulatory agency that’s unsure what it’s doing.”

The transmission project was proposed jointly by Tri-State and Xcel as a way to shore up the reliability of the valley’s aging power delivery infrastructure to the state’s ever-increasing population, and as a means to meet renewable energy state mandates through the export of wind and solar energy from Southern Colorado.

Public input part of Tri-State resource planning

In mid-July, Tri-State completed a series of six public meetings that took place over a 12-week period and involved nearly 100 individuals. The G&T conducted the public participation process to solicit input on its 2010 Resource Plan that it is required to file with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission this fall and also to the Western Area Power Administration in early 2011.

This resource planning process not only meets the association’s regulatory compliance obligations, but it also produces data that will inform Tri-State’s business strategy development. The process has been lauded by the public participants for its transparency and professionalism.

All materials and presentations are available for download on Tri-State’s web site at www.tristategt.org/ResourcePlanning.

The process will continue through the summer as Tri-State staff members work to draft the filing that will project future needs and assess assets to meet the needs of Tri-State’s member systems reliably and affordably.

Another public meeting to review the draft resource plan is anticipated to be held this October once Tri-State’s board of directors has reviewed it.

Employee’s article featured in trade pub

Interested in learning about how Tri-State’s maintenance crews are making use of the latest technologies to boost efficiency and productivity while they are out in the field? Then you will want to read this article featured in the latest edition of Transmission & Distribution World that was written by Tri-State’s own Bruce Kreager, transmission maintenance specialist in Westminster. The following is an excerpt from the article:

More than 5,200 miles of transmission lines cut through Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. In these four states, more than 35,000 structures provide electricity to Tri-State’s member co-ops across a 250,000 square-mile service territory.

Tri-State owns and manages these lines with the latest mobile and digital technology to ensure that the delivery of power is both safe and reliable. As part of the G&T’s reliability process, line crews and substation technicians perform regular inspections of the transmission infrastructure.

Recent federal regulations have made it critical that these structure and line inspections are carefully recorded and managed. For that reason, Tri-State linemen now use handheld mobile devices to collect valuable information in the field, and record and retrieve data electronically virtually anywhere in the service territory.

Widening the Highway for Colorado’s New Energy Economy

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.