Sep 20, 2023

Xcel Energy begins construction for massive Colorado’s Power Pathway project

DENVER — Leaders from Xcel Energy broke ground Wednesday morning on Colorado's Power Pathway, a $1.7 billion investment to improve Colorado's electrical grid and renewable energy development.

This transmission infrastructure will carry electricity from generation resources along Colorado's eastern plains to the cities around the Front Range through a 550-mile, 345-kilovolt double-circuit transmission line. That line encircles eastern Colorado, one of the nation's best areas for wind and solar.

The project also includes the construction of four new and four expanded substations to carry power to residents and businesses.

The project is two and a half years in the making and has a price tag between $1.7 and $2 billion. Xcel Energy is using the contractor Quanta Infrastructure Services Group, which has built 25% of the renewable solar wind in North America, said Quanta CEO Duke Austin.

"We look at this as something we’ll look back on and have built with the community, with the people of Colorado, to enable renewable energy," he said on Wednesday morning.

Xcel Energy says the Colorado Power Pathway project will "bring more renewable energy onto the grid, improve the reliability, flexibility and resilience of the electric system, and provide economic and clean energy development opportunities for customers and communities," and will ensure power availability during severe weather. The company said this will, in turn, boost the regional economy and create jobs.

It will also create tax revenue for the communities and for the owners of the properties that Xcel Energy is leasing, said Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Tim O’Connor.

The Colorado Power Pathway also supports the company's electric resource plan, also called the Clean Energy Plan, created in 2021, which would cut carbon emissions by an estimated 85% by 2030, and its 2050 carbon vision, in which the company hopes to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050.

"Currently, this project is meant to address our 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030," said Heather Brickey, project director for the project, on Wednesday. "And then we do have goals to get to 100% reduction by 2050… Part of that is getting the technology in place to get to that 100% target. We’ll get through the 2030 targets — we’re going to meet that with this project with all the generation projects coming online and then we’ll start looking at that next phase."

Xcel Energy President Robert Kenney added that the company already serves its Colorado customers with electricity that is 42% carbon-free.

The last time backbone transmission was upgraded in eastern Colorado was 2016.

Michael Lamb, senior vice president for transmission operations at Xcel Energy, said the Colorado Power Pathway project will deliver clean energy "from where it grows best" in eastern Colorado to where it's needed to heat and light homes and businesses.

"Our world is fundamentally changing and this project — the Colorado Power Pathway — is a sign of that fundamental change," Lamb said. "That old model has served us and our customers well for more than a century. So much so that sometimes our customers take our product for granted. But today, this project is a sign of a new era."

The project has multiple segments that cross eastern plains counties. Construction for each will begin as the permit approvals are granted by each jurisdiction of the segments.

Xcel Energy said construction has started along segment 2 and segment 3, while land use permitting activities are continuing for segments 1, 4 and 5 in Weld, Pueblo, Arapahoe, Elbert, El Paso, and Lincoln counties. Approvals were already received for the sections of segments 1, 2, 3 and 4 that are in Morgan, Washington, Kit Carson, Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Crowley counties.

Click here for the latest on the substation and transmission line construction and click here for the most up-to-date project map.

Want to see these segments in greater detail? Click here for segment 1, segment 2, segment 3, segment 4 and segment 5.

Land agents have been reaching out to landowners who have property along the preferred transmission line to answer questions and discuss their site-specific concerns.

"Additional field crews are conducting environmental and cultural resource evaluations, engineering surveys, and are assessing the condition of nearby infrastructure as part of required field survey work," Xcel Energy said. "These activities are being conducted only in the public right-of-way and work on private property will be conducted once appropriate permission has been obtained."

The exact completion date of this project is not yet known. Xcel Energy said in a spring 2023 update that it expects segment 1 to be completed in 2025 and segments 4 and 5 to be completed in 2027.

This project was approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in the spring of 2022.

Anybody interested in learning more about the Colorado Power Pathway project can learn more from previous or upcoming meetings by clicking here and scrolling down to "Next Steps" and "Past Events." The company has hosted 42 public meetings so far about the project. To learn more, call the project hotline at 855-858- 9037 or email [email protected].