Rush Creek wind project schedule affected by transmission line

A major new wind project planned in Lincoln County, Colorado could be delayed somewhat to ease coordination with the needed transmission infrastructure, officials with Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) said Aug. 3, during a quarterly earnings call with financial analysts.

Xcel Energy expects a Colorado Public Utilities Commission decision on the 600-MW Rush Creek wind project in November.

The company has sought Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for the Rush Creek I and II wind generation facilities, and also to construct and operate a 345-kV generation intertie.

Nearly 90 miles of transmission line will connect and carry the wind power output from the turbines to our substation near Deer Trail in Arapahoe County, Xcel Energy has said.

The commission recently received testimony on Rush Creek, which received strong support from PUC staff, Xcel Energy officials said during the conference call.

The Colorado staff recommended approval of Rush Creek subject to certain conditions including a capital cost cap, a shortened depreciation life, and changes to the timing of the in-service date to coincide with the Pawnee-Daniels transmission line.

In an April filing, Xcel Energy had targeted substantial completion of construction of the wind power project by Oct. 31, 2018.

The initial planned in-service date for the 345-kV Pawnee-Daniels Park Project was placed at 2022. However, the company is asking the Colorado PUC to accelerate the schedule in order to place the transmission project in-service by Oct. 31, 2019.

The proposed Pawnee-Daniels Park transmission line project consists of a new double-circuit 345 kilovolt (kV) transmission line between Xcel Energy’s Pawnee Substation near Brush, Colo., and the Daniels Park Substation south of the Denver metro-area. The project area includes Arapahoe and Douglas Counties, City of Aurora and Town of Parker. The estimated length is 125 miles and the estimated cost is $178m, according to Xcel Energy. The certificate of need was approved in spring 2015.

“If all of those [PUC staff] recommendations were adopted by the Commission, I do think it would change some of the timing of the [Rush Creek] project, but that would be it,” Fowke said of Rush Creek “synching up more” with operation of the transmission line.

Out of nine parties that filed comments only one, the Sustainable Power Group recommended the application should be denied, Xcel Energy Chairman, President and CEO Benjamin Fowke said in a transcript of the conference call provided by Seeking Alpha.

Sustainable Power Group has questioned the cost assumptions that Xcel’s Public Service of Colorado has filed in connection with the Rush Creek wind project.

The wind power project is primarily displacing fossil fuels on the Xcel Energy grid in Colorado, the CEO said.

A link to the transcript from Seeking Alpha can be found here:

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Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at