Developer preparing to file CPCN application for major Colorado transmission project

One of the developers of the Lamar-Front Range 345-kV transmission project connecting Colorado’s Front Range to substations in the eastern portion of the state says it will file an application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) for its portion of that project next year.

“We intend to submit the application for the portion of the line from Lamar to Burlington some time in 2014,” a spokesperson for Tri-State Generation and Transmission told TransmissionHub Oct. 15.

The Lamar-Front Range project, which consists of three segments totaling 400 miles of new transmission, is being proposed jointly by Tri-State Generation and Transmission and Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL), d/b/a Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo).

The project consists of two major components in three sections, according to Xcel Energy’s project website. The Lamar to Missile Site component is divided into the Lamar to Burlington and Burlington to Missile Site sections, while the Lamar to Comanche section comprises the second major component of the project.

Tri-State will be responsible for 60% of project costs, estimated at $900m, and Xcel will be responsible for a 40%, according to TransmissionHub data. The precise breakdown of planning and construction responsibilities, however, has not been completely clear, the Tri-State spokesperson said.

“It’s not known if Xcel will be a participant in the Lamar to Burlington portion of the project at this time, but we are planning to file as Tri-State only for a CPCN,” the spokesperson said.

For its part, Xcel officials indicate the company will not be moving forward with its portion of the project next year, even though it will be included in the biennial transmission project plan the company will file with Colorado regulators by Oct. 31.

“Lamar-Front Range is listed in our plan as projects that we’re still interested in, but we have no plans to file a CPCN in 2014” for the project, Timothy Carlsgaard, a spokesperson for Xcel Energy, told TransmissionHub Oct. 18. “We’re looking at several different projects that might be filed in 2014 but Lamar-Front Range is not one of them.”

Under Colorado law, utilities are required to “[C]ontinually evaluate the adequacy of electric transmission facilities throughout the state and should be encouraged to promptly and efficiently improve such infrastructure as required to meet the state’s existing and future energy needs.” The law, Senate Bill 07-100, also required utilities to file biennial transmission project plans with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission by Oct. 31 of odd-numbered years.

Xcel’s 2013 biennial transmission plan will be substantially similar to the plan filed in October 2011, which included detailed plans for the Lamar-Front Range project.

In that document, Xcel described the project as consisting of approximately 350 miles of high voltage transmission. The proposed project will allow approximately 800 MW to 1,000 MW of additional generation to interconnect at or near PSCo’s Lamar substation. Studies indicate that the area lacks sufficient transmission and requires a robust backbone network to deliver potential and anticipated generation to load centers in Colorado. Its anticipated in-service date of 2020 was identified in PSCo’s 2007 transmission project plan, according to Xcel’s project website.

An associated project in Xcel’s 2011 filing is the proposed Lamar-Villas transmission project, which consists of approximately 57 miles of transmission from PSCo’s Lamar substation to a new substation near the town of Vilas, Colo. The Lamar-Villas project was identified in 2007 as a way to accommodate generation resources in Baca County, but system studies indicated that any additional generation at Lamar would require significant upgrades, such as the Lamar-Front Range project. The proposed project would not be able to accommodate any new generation unless the Lamar-Front Range transmission line were also in place, Xcel said in its 2011 report. The cost is estimated at $90m but no in-service date has been set.

The other transmission major project listed in the 2011 plan that would have connected to the Lamar-Front Range project at the Comanche substation south of Pueblo, Colo., the San Luis Valley-Calumet-Comanche project, was withdrawn from consideration shortly after the plan was issued. 

The company’s assessment showed a slowing in the region’s anticipated demand growth. In its 2010 resource plan, Xcel Energy forecast 1,000 MW of new demand by 2018. By its 2011 resource plan, the forecast increase had dropped to 292 MW.

Originally published on Oct. 17, this article was updated on Oct. 18 to include comments from Xcel Energy officials clarifying that the company does not plan to file a CPCN application for its portion of the Lamar-Front Range project in 2014.