T&D World Magazine

Consortium to Study Regional Transmission Expansion


A consortium of seven western electric transmission owners and an independent transmission company recently announced an effort to study and plan for the expansion and reinforcement of the regional grid to provide for a high-voltage backbone transmission system between Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

In addition to Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company, the consortium includes Colorado Springs Utilities; Platte River Power Authority; Public Service Company of New Mexico; Salt River Project; Trans-Elect Development Company; Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association; and the Western Area Power Administration.

“Historically, the development of electric transmission has followed the announcement of new generating sources,” said Doug Jaeger, Xcel Energy vice president for transmission. “This study is unique in that we will develop a proactive plan to create the robust infrastructure needed to support renewable expansion and other generation necessary for Colorado and the surrounding region.”

The High Plains Express Transmission Project Study (HPX) has the potential to provide a number of benefits, including:

  • improve overall regional electric reliability;
  • increase access to diverse resources, including renewables;
  • increase import and export capabilities for the region; and
  • reduce environmental impacts by sharing utility corridors where feasible.

The project will begin with a feasibility study to identify potential backbone transmission alternatives in the region. The study will also consider five large transmission projects announced in recent months to determine if certain synergies among these projects can lead to coordinated transmission plans.

The consortium will take into account recently adopted transmission legislation in the regional states, including the creation of statewide transmission authorities. The study effort will comply with the principles of open, coordinated and transparent planning on both a local and regional level, as outlined recently in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 890.
Additional information will be posted at: www.rmao.com/wtpp/HPX_Studies.html. The consortium hopes to complete the High Plains Express Transmission Project study by August 2007.

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