Xcel begins work on two transmission projects

Grid reliability trumps local concern, Colorado state regulators ruled in ordering Xcel Energy Inc. to proceed immediately with upgrading a 115 kv transmission line between Boulder and Broomfield. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission said an immediate upgrade of the line is needed to prevent possible customer outages. Separately, a Texas subsidiary of Xcel has begun construction of an interstate 345 kv line that company executives say will also help also relieve constraints in Colorado.


By Kate Thomas
OGJ Online

HOUSTON, Feb. 21�Grid reliability trumps local concern, Colorado state regulators ruled in ordering Xcel Energy Inc. to proceed immediately with upgrading a 115 kv transmission line between Boulder and Broomfield.

Separately, a Texas subsidiary of Xcel has begun construction of an interstate 345 kv line that company executives say will also help relieve transmission constraints in Colorado.

Over objections of the city of Louisville, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) gave Xcel permission to begin construction immediately and complete the work by this summer to ensure adequate and reliable electric service to the US 36 corridor.

The commission said an immediate upgrade of the electrical transmission line that runs between Boulder and Broomfield is needed to prevent possible customer outages this summer.

Growth between Denver and Boulder has "exploded" in the past 10 years, says an Xcel spokesman, making the need for the Louisville segment of a three-phase upgrade particularly acute. He said the expansion will double the current but retain the same voltage.

Aboveground most practical
In conjunction with the ruling, commissioners said the evidence in the record indicates the company�s proposal to construct the upgrade aboveground is the only practical option to get the line done in time for this summer's peak loads.

The PUC was asked by Xcel last fall to resolve a dispute between the company and the city of Louisville over the proposed upgrade of the transmission line that runs between Xcel�s Valmont power plant in Boulder and its Broomfield substation.

The city of Louisville wanted the company to bury the transmission line, at an additional $8 million cost, and has yet to grant Xcel a permit to begin construction. Xcel said it would bury the line if the city paid for the $8 million extra cost.

Louisville had requested that Xcel wait 2 years to construct the upgrade to give the city time to obtain financing, but the company said it could not wait that long without jeopardizing reliable electric service to its customers in Louisville and surrounding areas.

Meanwhile, work on the Amarillo, Tex.-Holcomb, Kan. segment of a 345 kv line began 3 weeks ago and is expected to be in service in October, said Bill Crenshaw, a spokesman for Xcel Energy Services. The Texas location is outside the jurisdiction of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, he said.

When complete, the high voltage transmission line will connect the electric transmission system of Southwestern Public Service Co. in Texas with Public Service Co. of Colorado, Xcel's Colorado subsidiary, and with electric utility systems in the Eastern Interconnection, the electric grid that borders Colorado to the east.

Once the Texas to Kansas segment is completed, the line will be extended to Lamar, Colo., Crenshaw said. The Colorado PUC has approved the 27.5 mile proposal and construction is expected to begin on the project in October 2003.

Prowers County, Colo., has approved the company�s siting of facilities from Lamar to the Colorado-Kansas state line and the Kansas Corp. Commission has approved construction of the transmission line facilities in Kansas. The Colorado segment includes a $65.7 million conversion facility to connect two separate electrical grids.

Xcel executives have previously said the 345 kv line will increase the reliability of Colorado's power supply, by establishing an important interconnection and transmission path that can increase the amount of electric generation capacity that can be imported into Colorado.

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