Xcel Energy and multiple parties have agreed to a settlement that would allow for Xcel Energy to build, own, and operate what would be one of the largest wind farms in Colorado — and the most cost-effective in state history.
In recent filings with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Xcel Energy and parties also agreed to let the utility pursue an earlier construction schedule for the proposed transmission line. If approved, the transmission project would go into service in October 2019, several years ahead of what was originally approved.
The Rush Creek Wind Project proposal includes 600 MW of new wind power and a corresponding 345-kilovolt transmission line (approximately 90 miles), to be built in parts of Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson and Lincoln counties. If approved by the CPUC and the counties, the project is expected to begin construction in late 2017, with anticipated commercial operations set for late 2018.
The Rush Creek Wind Project is expected to create substantial employment and economic development opportunities in Colorado, including approximately 350 jobs during construction and a $1 billion injection into the region’s economy. And, by taking advantage of federal tax incentives for construction, Xcel Energy can reduce capital costs and directly pass more than $400 million in savings on a net present value basis over the 25-year life of the project.
The proposed Pawnee-Daniels Park Transmission Project consists of a new, double-circuit 345-kilovolt transmission line between Xcel Energy’s Pawnee Substation near Brush, Colorado, 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 125-mile project is a critical component of the Colorado long-range transmission plan. The project will allow for the interconnection and delivery of new generation resources — including renewable energy — to Front Range customers, to meet increased customer demand for electricity and to improve system reliability.
“We believe the settlement, if approved, is a no-regrets step towards more renewable energy for Xcel Energy customers and the state of Colorado,” said David Eves, president, Xcel Energy. “Rush Creek will provide low-cost energy to our customers, and it adds a clean, renewable generation resource to the state that will help us meet potential federal and state air quality mandates.”
Eves noted that both the Rush Creek Wind Project and the Pawnee-Daniels Park Transmission Project are key components of the “Our Energy Future” vision for Colorado. They will help Xcel Energy embrace technology, provide further customer options and choice, and power the state’s economy.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity application for the project in April 2015. Advancing the in-service date of the project will help ensure that customers reap federal tax credit benefits, which significantly reduce the cost of wind generation.
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