PUC approves settlement on Xcel Energy wind project
DENVER (Sept. 30, 2016) — The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today approved a broadly-supported settlement that will allow Xcel Energy to develop, own and operate a 600-megawatt wind facility located on Colorado’s eastern plains.
The PUC, a division of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), voted to approve the agreement without modification reached between the company and more than a dozen other parties. In addition to PUC staff, the Office of Consumer Counsel and the Colorado Energy Office, signatories to the settlement included environmental organizations, cooperative electric associations, municipalities, large energy consumers, trade and union groups, and independent power producers.
The proposed Rush Creek Wind Project would be one of Colorado’s largest wind farms, comprised of two generation sites and a 90-mile high-voltage transmission line to tie into Xcel’s electric system. In total, the project would include 300 turbines on approximately 116,000 acres in Elbert, Lincoln, Kit Carson and Cheyenne counties. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 with anticipated commercial operations expected to begin in late 2018.
In approving the settlement, the PUC found that the project satisfied the reasonable cost standard in state law that allows utility ownership of up to 25 percent of the total new renewable energy resources acquired after March 27, 2007.
“I’m very pleased that almost 20 parties could join together and support a comprehensive settlement that significantly increases renewable energy in the state, will be a driver of economic development in rural Colorado, and helps sustain the renewable energy supply chain that has matured in Colorado,” PUC Chairman Joshua Epel said. “I am especially pleased that a high-voltage transmission line that provides access to energy resource zones is part of the settlement.”
The agreement caps the cost of the project at $1.096 billion. It also provides for a sharing of cost savings between customers and the company if capital costs are less than the capped amount.
The agreement also allows Xcel to pursue an earlier construction schedule for the proposed Pawnee-Daniels Park Transmission Project to take advantage of federal tax credits and to accommodate the Rush Creek project interconnection.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) serves the public interest by effectively regulating utilities and facilities so that the people of Colorado receive safe, reliable, and reasonably-priced services consistent with the economic, environmental and social values of our state. Visit www.colorado.gov/dora/puc.
The Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit www.colorado.gov/dora for more information or call 303-894-7855/toll free 1-800-886-7675.