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Xcel Energy Plans New Rural Transmission Lines in Colorado

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On Tuesday this week the utility announced one section of its new “Colorado Plan” which is heavily focused on upgrading transmission lines in rural areas of the state to facilitate greater renewable energy input into the grid.

Xcel has a target of eliminating carbon emissions entirely by around 2050, similar to some other utilities, and estimated in its latest earnings call with investors that it had reached an objective at the end of 2020 of reducing half its emissions below 2005 levels.

The plans that the company revealed this week will involve investment of $1.7 billion in transmission to make feasible 5,500 MW of mostly new renewables projects in Colorado. The main scheme is for five new segments of high-voltage transmission lines connecting more rural, renewables-dense areas with more urban regions of the state. This plan comprises a 560 mile, 345 kV transmission line that will enable the utility to diminish emissions in its Colorado territory by an estimated 85% of 2005 levels by 2030. These grid upgrades will transmit power from more rural regions to the urban areas of the state.

"These rural counties are rich with renewable energy resource development potential, but do not currently have a network transmission system that can integrate new resources needed to meet the state's clean energy goals," Xcel said in a news release.

Xcel has filed documentation with Colorado regulators for the necessary permitting. If approved, construction will begin as early as 2023 and the first segment is planned to be in service by 2025, with the other segments coming online in 2026 and 2027.

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