Tri-State studies new 230-kV project into San Luis Valley

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is studying a new 230-kV transmission project into the San Luis Valley in Colorado.

The San Luis Valley to Carson, or Valley Corridor, project would replace the line Tri-State was collaborating on with Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) before the latter backed out in November 2011, saying the line wasn’t needed in the medium term. That project had been approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and would have extended from the San Luis Valley east to Walsenberg, Colo., then north to the Comanche substation in Pueblo, Colo., creating an additional pathway to the San Luis Valley from the north.

The new line will have a north-south alignment and connect the existing San Luis Valley substation near Alamosa, Colo., with an existing 345-kV transmission line in an area west of Taos, N.M., according to a fact sheet on the project. The project would be approximately 120 miles of 230-kV line and is estimated to cost about $123m.

“This is a new project that we are studying to address the reliability needs we’ve had in the San Luis Valley for a long time,” the spokesperson said. “The line is addressing the same need, just from a different study area.”

Tri-State is in the nascent stages of the study and has not developed potential routes for the project, the spokesperson said. However, the route would avoid an area that has been designated as a conservation easement and prohibits transmission lines, the spokesperson said. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe in June 2012 announced that conservationist Louis Bacon planned to donate 90,000 acres of his Blanca Ranch in the San Luis Valley to a conservation easement. His other ranch, Trinchera, is protected by an easement administered by Colorado Open Lands.

The new project would require a new application to the Colorado PUC for approval of a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN).

“Tri-State has considered a variety of transmission project alternatives and plans to study further an alternative transmission project with a generally north-south alignment between Alamosa, Colorado and Tri-State’s existing transmission system in northern New Mexico,” the company said in the project document. 

In addition to addressing reliability concerns, the line would provide a second source of power into the San Luis Valley and would provide a pathway for renewable energy development in the region, the company said in the document.

If approved, the project would begin construction at the beginning of 2019 and enter service at the end of 2021.

Siting, environmental and engineering work would take place from 2014 to 2019. Tri-State would apply for the CPCN at the beginning of 2017 and begin to acquire easements at the beginning of 2018, according to the cooperative’s anticipated project timeline. 

About Rosy Lum 525 Articles
Rosy Lum, Analyst for TransmissionHub, has been covering the U.S. energy industry since 2007. She began her career in energy journalism at SNL Financial, for which she established a New York news desk. She covered topics ranging from energy finance and renewable policies and incentives, to master limited partnerships and ETFs. Thereafter, she honed her energy and utility focus at the Financial Times' dealReporter, where she covered and broke oil and gas and utility mergers and acquisitions.