Colorado’s Power Pathway will connect region with clean energy
Xcel Energy breaks ground on historic transmission infrastructure project
The transmission system is the backbone of the U.S. electric grid, with nearly 160,0000 miles of high-voltage power lines carrying energy from where it is generated to areas where it is needed. Adequate transmission capacity is critical to delivering the significant amount of renewable energy generation needed to achieve Colorado’s and Xcel Energy’s clean energy goals.
Currently, the transmission system in eastern Colorado is approaching its capacity. To continue serving existing energy generation and plan for future renewable energy generation, Xcel Energy is expanding transmission capacity through a historic infrastructure project: Colorado’s Power Pathway.
The Pathway will provide high voltage “backbone” transmission, allowing Xcel Energy to connect more than 5,000-megawatts of new renewable energy produced in eastern Colorado, one of the nation’s best areas for wind and solar generation. This new generation will provide more low-cost electricity to meet the needs of Colorado’s growing population while providing greater reliability with fewer outages.
Today, Xcel Energy serves our Colorado customers with 42% carbon-free electricity, and we have reduced carbon emissions by 51%, putting us well on the way toward exceeding state carbon reduction goals. The company’s Colorado Clean Energy Plan will help further reduce carbon emissions as we work to provide safe, reliable and increasingly clean energy.
Under the plan, Xcel Energy will reduce carbon emissions at least 85% by 2030 from 2005 levels, responsibly retire coal operations by the end of 2030 and add unprecedented amounts of renewable energy resources to the grid. The plan will also provide significant benefits for all of Colorado in the coming decade, including the creation of thousands of jobs to build new clean energy infrastructure and the investment of billions of dollars to generate and deliver reliable, clean, affordable energy.
In 2021, Xcel Energy began a multi-year study that included significant outreach to stakeholders, landowners and regional leaders, and resulted in the identification of preferred routes for each Power Pathway segment. The company then started working with each county that would be crossed by the transmission line to obtain land use, access and construction permits. Segments 2 and 3 were the first segments to receive all necessary permits, paving the way for the start of construction.
In early 2023, Xcel Energy announced it selected Quanta Services to manage all construction activities for the Pathway, and on June 7, 2023, Xcel Energy, county and state officials and Quanta Services joined together to formally break ground on the project. During a ceremony at the future site of the Canal Crossing substation, located southeast of Fort Morgan in Morgan County, executives highlighted the valued partnerships Colorado’s Power Pathway will create among eastern Colorado communities.
“We’re so pleased with the relationships we’ve forged with community leaders, stakeholders and landowners as we progress with Colorado’s Power Pathway. The project will transform Colorado’s electrical grid by connecting our region with affordable, carbon-free energy,” said Robert Kenney, president of Xcel Energy-Colorado. “This major construction effort will bring economic opportunities and improve electric reliability on the Front Range and in eastern Colorado.”
Xcel Energy’s $1.7 billion investment in Colorado’s Power Pathway will benefit local communities in multiple ways. The Pathway will require substantial amounts of contract labor and will provide potential employment opportunities and indirect economic stimulus to host communities from construction activities over the next several years. It will also generate lease payments to landowners, and property taxes associated with the new energy infrastructure will provide additional revenue to schools, first responders and other important community services. Increased transmission capacity will draw new renewable energy projects that ultimately connect to the transmission line, which will in turn bring more job opportunities and further local economic development.
“The Pathway will become the largest infrastructure project for Xcel Energy in Colorado,” said Tim O’Connor, chief operating officer for Xcel Energy. “It highlights our nationwide leadership in pursuing clean energy resources and underscores the commitment to our customers and the people of this state to deliver clean energy.”
Segment 2 of the Pathway will be built from the new Canal Crossing substation to the new Goose Creek substation, northwest of Cheyenne Wells in Cheyenne County. Segment 3 will run from the Goose Creek substation south to the new May Valley substation, northeast of Lamar in Kiowa County. Construction on Segment 1 is currently scheduled to begin in 2024 and Segments 4 and 5 in 2025. Work on Segments 2 and 3 will be complete in 2025, Segments 1 and 4 in 2026 and Segment 5 in 2027.