Colorado Public Works Journal, Spring 2024

Of all forms of infrastructure, up until now, energy is probably the most underappreciated in terms of its contribution to the overall quality of life in America. That will change soon. As the push for clean energy continues across the country and worldwide, Colorado enjoys a position at the front of the charge, thanks in no small part to the state’s partnership with Xcel Energy. Hollie Velasquez Horvath, Xcel Colorado’s Regional Vice President, is proud to share the details of the utility’s game-changing endeavors along the eastern plains. “Xcel Energy is dedicated to serving our customers as stewards of an investment in clean energy,” begins Velasquez Horvath from Xcel Colorado’s Denver office. “That means working with state and local governments to build, operate, and maintain the required clean energy infrastructure. In Colorado, the legislative plan is to achieve 80 percent clean energy by 2030. The Colorado Power Pathway is an important part of the big picture.” Located along a 550-mile north-south route through Colorado’s eastern plains, the new Colorado Power Pathway is a $1.7 billion investment in improving the state’s grid and clean energy future. When complete in 2027, the double-circuit transmission lines will carry approximately 5,500 megawatts of new wind, solar, and other sources of clean electricity from the state’s largely unpopulated eastern plains to the urban centers of the front range and mountain communities beyond. “The double circuit represents the amount of energy that can transmit through the line,” says Velasquez Horvath. “These are the large towers that people can see from a distance. The proposed 345-kilovolt transmission system will span 12 counties, from Weld and Morgan counties to the north down through Cheyenne, Kit Carson, and El Paso to Pueblo County in the south.” Transmission lines are the fundamental backbone of the electricity network. The high-capacity transmission lines across Colorado’s open, arid plains will enable new investments in wind and solar power plants to bring more low-cost electricity to help meet the state’s growing needs while taking advantage of the area’s ideal conditions. “Xcel Energy has plans to build or buy close to 3500 megawatts of new energy generation from renewable sources. This Power Pathway is a superhighway for all the clean energy that will be generated out there,” shares Velasquez Horvath. “When you map the sun and analyze wind velocities, Colorado’s eastern plains are exceptional. So, we choose the intended route in alignment with those opportunities.” Beginning in the north and working south toward Pueblo County, Segment 1 involves connecting the existing Fort St. Vrain Substation in Weld County to a new Canal Crossing Substation just south of Fort Morgan. Segment 2 connects the Canal Crossing Substation in Morgan County to the Goose Creek Substation to be built in Cheyenne County while crossing Washington and Kit Carson counties along the route. Segment 3 connects the new Goose Creek Substation to the May Valley Substation Xcel will build in Kiowa County. Segment 4 runs from the new May Valley Substation on the plains west to the new Sandstone Substation outside Puelo and beyond to the existing Tundra Substation in Pueblo. The Colorado Power Pathway Xcel Energy Colorado readies the eastern plains for the new energy economy By Sean O’Keefe