Xcel and Tri-State claim two different needs for their proposed transmission line:
1. Energy Reliability: Tri-State wants to improve energy reliability for the San Luis Valley
2. Transmission Capacity: Xcel wants to increase the transmission system’s ability to transmit new energy generated in Southern Colorado to other areas
We completely support improving energy reliability in the Valley. However, we do not support the way the utilities are going about it. There are better, smarter, cheaper and less impactful ways of achieving this goal.
One thing on reliability is crystal clear. Before the utilities joined forces on this gigantic transmission line, Tri-State evaluated ways to improve energy reliability for the region. That study identified a number of upgrades and smaller projects that could improve reliability.
Significant additional transmission capacity is not needed. The utilities’ own experts acknowledge that the existing energy transmission system has room for more new energy than they have committed to for the region.
For perspective, they agree that there is room for at least 355 megawatts (MW) of new energy on the existing lines. This begs the question of how much more new energy Xcel plans to export out of the San Luis Valley. The answer is nothing more than the 60 MW of solar energy currently under contract. Xcel’s most recent filing on the matter with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission includes no new renewable projects in the San Luis Valley. So why build a new line?