Public Service Company of Colorado (Public Service) on Jan. 22 filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission an amended application for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the Shortgrass Switching Station Project, which is needed to interconnect two wind generating facilities approved as part of the Preferred Colorado Energy Plan Portfolio (CEPP) in the company’s most recent 2016 Electric Resource Plan (2016 ERP).
The switching station was initially identified by the company as Rush Creek 2 in the company’s “120-Day Report,” with Rush Creek 2 identified as the point of interconnection for a 300-MW wind project known as Bronco Plains and a 500-MW wind project known as Cheyenne Ridge, included among the 11 total projects that comprised the Preferred CEPP. The company added that as it continued to develop plans for the interconnection facility, the name changed from Rush Creek 2 to Shortgrass switching station.
The commission approved – by Decision No. C18-0761 (the Phase II Decision) – the Preferred CEPP, including the two wind energy projects, with both the Bronco Plains and Cheyenne Ridge projects to interconnect at the Shortgrass switching station. The company also said that the Phase II Decision directed it to file a CPCN application(s) for the $204m total transmission investment identified in the 120-Day Report associated with the approved CEPP. Accordingly, the company is submitting the amended application to build, own, and operate the Shortgrass switching station, which is an approximately $13.9m component of the $204m total transmission investment identified in its 120-Day Report.
The switching station’s estimated $13.9m cost does not include land costs or transmission line costs because the company already has the necessary land rights, and the project does not include the construction of any new transmission lines.
The company also noted that regarding the 300-MW Bronco Plains Project, in October 2018, the company executed a wind energy purchase agreement (WEPA, or more commonly referred to as a power purchase agreement, or PPA) between Public Service and Bronco Plains Wind, LLC.
Regarding the 500-MW Cheyenne Ridge Wind Project, the commission’s Phase II Decision requires the company to file a CPCN application for the project. Public Service added that the commercial contract for that project remains under negotiation and the CPCN application for the Cheyenne Ridge Wind Project will be forthcoming.
Timely approval of the CPCN for the Shortgrass switching station is necessary to begin construction of the switching station, the company said, adding that that would ensure that the interconnection facility is in service for the necessary testing and commissioning of the wind generation facilities in order to achieve a commercial operation date (COD) by Dec. 31, 2020, and obtain the full value of the production tax credit (PTC).
The Shortgrass switching station will be configured as a four-position ring bus switching station, which will connect the 345-kV line that runs west to Pronghorn and Missile Site – i.e., the Rush Creek Gen-Tie – the Rush Creek II wind facility, the 345-kV transmission line that will run east to the Cheyenne Ridge wind facility, and the 345-kV line that will connect to the Bronco Plains wind facility.
Among other things, the company said that the Shortgrass switching station is located in a rural agricultural area on the eastern plains about 12 miles east of Hugo in Lincoln County, Colo. That area is characterized by rolling shortgrass prairies with predominant landscape types of dry land pasture and open rangeland with cattle ranching and some cultivated farming. The company added that the switching station will be built on about 20 acres of land currently owned by Public Service directly adjacent to the Rush Creek II collector substation that was built as part of the Rush Creek Wind Project. The company said that it has received all necessary local governmental approvals for the project from Lincoln County, and has completed all siting and permitting activities necessary for the proposed project.
Public Service also said that it plans to begin construction in the spring, soon after the commission grants a CPCN for the project, and that it anticipates construction would take about 10 months, with an expected in-service date of February 2020.