Politics

Colorado lawmakers are calling for the Energy Authority to boost the electrical grid and avoid price hikes across Texas

Colorado needs a new authority to build power lines and its own regional charter to provide affordable backup supplies in order to avoid energy battles like the ones in Texas and at home over who should pay for the exorbitant effects from the same cold front, under bipartisan Senate-backed legislation. Sponsors.

The proposed law, Senate Bill 72, It would also create a faster review of approval for vital new transportation projects in Colorado, which critics say is often blocked due to overlapping regulation and a lack of collaboration between facilities and communities.

State Senator Chris Hansen, Democrat from Denver and state Senator. Don Corram, a Montrose Republican, described their streamlined power show as a “billion dollar conversation” to Colorado consumers.

With the increasing demand for cleanly generated electrical power, and the corridors needed for other services such as broadband internet, failure to act “is the equivalent of losing your city to the railways in the 19th century,” said Hansen, an engineer who spent decades in clean tech facilities and services. “We must have a strong network.”

The bill proposes a “Colorado Electric Transmission Authority,” which has the power to issue debt, declare a prominent field of acquisition of required property, and negotiate transportation corridors to other states.

Colorado’s major energy providers are not yet enthusiastic about the bill, noting that it appears to create new layers of regulation and oversight while they take adequate precautionary measures themselves.

“We are committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable energy to our customers and we have done so without being part” of a more robust common network, referred to as the Regional Transportation Organization, Xcel Energy said in a statement.

Currently, transmission is coordinated regionally across the West and is a robust system that includes all states west of the Colorado / Kansas border. “Energy providers across the West can transfer power throughout the region,” said Michele Aguayo, a spokeswoman for Xcel. “We’ve evaluated joining RTO in the past – and will continue to evaluate – what it means to join our clients after 2030, keeping in mind cost and reliability.”

A network of power lines runs south from the Comanche Power Station in Pueblo on January 19, 2019. Comaneci is the largest power plant in the state, capable of generating more than 1,400 megawatts. (Mike Sweeney, Colorado Sun Special)

Xcel, Black Hills Colorado Electric, Platte River Power Authority, and Colorado Springs Utilities have energy sharing agreements and will join an efficiency and cost-saving agreement called the Western Energy Imbalance Market. In a joint statement released in late 2019.

While the move got them to join partners in an interstate efficiency market that is controlled by an autonomous system operator in California, it also separates their plans from other facilities in Colorado that Hansen wants to assemble.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Company previously announced that it is joining other facilities to enter the Western Energy Imbalance Service, which has a similar name but is completely separate from WEIM. WEIS is operated by a regional transportation organization called Southwest Power Pool. (SPP, contrary to its name, operates primarily in central states.)

Hansen’s bill makes clear that backers believe that separating Colorado utility interests represents a loss to consumers, who Hansen says will benefit much more financially from the savings of the Colorado-run collective power complex.

State Senator joins Chris Hansen and his two sons, Ashwin, 10, left, and Sachin, 11, in the House Chamber before the start of the first legislative day on January 4, 2019 (Catherine Scott, exclusive for The Colorado Sun,)

“Nobody is looking for price payers across the state,” Hansen said.

Hansen said Xcel has made some movement to join the lopsided markets, but the estimated savings are “rough mistakes” for the large public company compared to the potential price cuts of hundreds of millions of dollars by pooling bargaining power.

The Tri-State representative said the attendant plans to meet with Hansen and others to talk about the bill.

“Certainly, Tri-State supports the creation of a regional transport organization for Colorado and the West, as we noted when we announced plans in November 2020 to study and evaluate membership, with others, at Southwest Power Pool,” Tri-State spokesperson Mark Stutz said in a statement. By email.

Hansen and Corram will also try to sell the bill to fellow lawmakers by promoting the Transportation Authority as the best way to unleash the employment potential and economic potential of South Central and Southeast Colorado.

Utilities and alternative energy experts have long said that the Southern Tier of Colorado hosts the best conditions for large-scale wind and solar projects, but lacks the transmission lines needed to bring electricity to the front-line or to western markets. Power line maps show an empty quarter below the pueblo.

“This is one of the shortcomings of the Colorado state energy policy,” Hansen said. He said most of the country is in a strong regional transport group. “Colorado resisted, and it is time to take advantage of these opportunities.”

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