Colorado’s high voltage transmission infrastructure (defined as 230 kV and 345 kV power lines) has developed over many decades to meet load growth. However, this aging infrastructure is now in need of substantial expansion to meet the needs of a state with five million residents and a projected population of over 9 million in 2050. Further, new transmission lines are needed to deliver large blocks of renewable energy to the urban areas. Transmission is the vital link connecting electricity generation to electrical loads.
Public Service Company of Colorado is the largest transmission owner and operator in Colorado and the second largest is Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a wholesale power supplier owned by 44 electric cooperatives. Additionally, the Western Area Power Administration markets and delivers hydroelectric power within a 15-state region of the central and western United States, including Colorado. These three entities, their regulators, and governing boards, are positioned to address strategic opportunities with electricity transmission, however further policy support is required. A series of studies over the past decade have concluded that Colorado’s transmission infrastructure is congested and under-sized in voltage and capability. Policymakers and utilities are responding with heightened attention to the planning and permitting challenges that must be resolved in order to deliver large blocks of renewable energy to load centers. Concrete, near-term actions by stakeholders (like the CEO) are necessary to resolve these issues.
Colorado’s Transmission Infrastructure: