DENVER — A proposal to build one of the biggest wind electric power projects in Colorado to provide clean energy to the Front Range has won approval from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
Xcel Energy is planning to build 300 wind turbines across more than 110,000 acres in Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson, and Lincoln counties in eastern Colorado as part of the Rush Creek Wind Project.
A 90-mile transmission line to a substation near Deer Trail will bring the power to the Front Range, the Denver Post reported (http://tinyurl.com/ho2wtd6 ).
The PUC gave its approval after Xcel Energy and several other groups involved with the project reached an agreement that included a large number of local government agencies that had to sign off on the plan.
“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 in a statement.
The project will likely cost as much as $1.1 billion and it is expected to eliminate a million tons of carbon emissions compared with other energy sources.
Gwen Farnsworth, a senior energy policy adviser with Western Resource Advocates, said Rush Creek could have the transmission capacity to move up to 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy from that part of Colorado.
Progressive 15, an economic development group promoting northeastern Colorado, said wind energy is becoming a major part of Colorado’s rural economy.
The Independence Institute, which criticized the project, said Xcel Energy has already met its renewable energy targets set by the state and doesn’t need more generation capacity. Critics said regulators are rushing the project without a detailed analysis of whether ratepayers will benefit.
Xcel Energy expects to start construction on Rush Creek next year and electricity is expected to start flowing in late 2018.
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com