June 10, 2022

Xcel to begin Colorado Power Pathways permitting

DENVER — Xcel Energy Inc.’s (NYSE: XEL) won regulatory approval this month to begin in earnest its ambitious Colorado Power Pathways project, which will involve the construction of a $1.7-billion, 500-plus-mile electrical transmission line across wide swaths of the state.

The Power Pathway project is expected to stretch between 560 and 650 miles — which would make it Colorado’s longest transmission line — to deliver renewable energy in a loop from Longmont east into Weld County and the plains, then south to the corner of the state and back north to Denver. The project’s aim is to assist Xcel achieve carbon-free electricity generation by 2050.

The Colorado Public Utility Commission this month co-signed Xcel’s contention that the project will contribute to the state’s green-energy goals. 

The overall purpose of the transmission line is to connect areas of the state where much of the renewable energy is generated to the highly populated areas around Denver and Colorado Springs.

“Delivering new renewable energy to customers is a key component to Xcel Energy’s Clean Energy Plan, which is being considered by the [PUC] and includes the early retirement or transition of coal plants, while adding wind, solar and battery storage. The Pathway project is an investment of $1.7 [billion] to $2 billion and is expected to connect 5,500 megawatts of new renewable energy for our customers,” Xcel public affairs manager Randy Fordice told BizWest in April.

The utility “will begin filing permits with counties this month and will continue working on route development for the new transmission infrastructure with local landowners, officials and other key stakeholders in areas where the proposed transmission line route hasn’t been determined yet,” the company said in a news release. 

Xcel hopes “to begin construction on the first segments in eastern and northeast Colorado by mid-2023,” Fordice said. That segment would include the Longmont and Weld County lines. The first segments of the project are expected to be complete by 2025 with full buildout by 2027.

Xcel chose the proposed location of the transmission loop to connect some of Colorado’s best and most remote wind and solar resources to new and expanded electricity substations and ultimately the Front Range’s population centers. 

In addition to the environmental benefits, Xcel is touting the projects as a jobs generator in the communities where the transmission line will be built. 

“We are thrilled to be able to move forward with an important project that will deliver renewable, clean energy to the most populated areas of the state while supporting our rural communities,” Xcel’s Colorado president Robert Kenney said in the release. “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.”

The Colorado Power Pathways project is expected to cost Xcel ratepayers about $600 million over the next several years.

The utility hopes to tap into federal renewable energy tax credits to reduce the overall cost of the project.

To guard against the potential for extreme cost overruns and work delays, the PUC increased the maximum penalties it can pursue if the utility fails to deliver.

This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news organization, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWest Media LLC.

DENVER — Xcel Energy Inc.’s (NYSE: XEL) won regulatory approval this month to begin in earnest its ambitious Colorado Power Pathways project, which will involve the construction of a $1.7-billion, 500-plus-mile electrical transmission line across wide swaths of the state.

The Power Pathway project is expected to stretch between 560 and 650 miles — which would make it Colorado’s longest transmission line — to deliver renewable energy in a loop from Longmont east into Weld County and the plains, then south to the corner of the state and back north to Denver. The project’s aim is to assist Xcel achieve…