Transmission line study application has been filed

Courier photo by John Waters Power transmission lines on 8N in Alamosa County. The county has submitted a grant application to the Department of Energy that would fund studies to analyze potential routes for new transmission lines in and out of the Valley.

SAN LUIS VALLEY — Alamosa County Commissioner Lori Laske has submitted a concept paper application to the U.S. Department of Energy for a grant to study the feasibility of considering up to three alternative power transmission lines in and out of the Valley. The application is for up to $2.0 million for an Upper Rio Grande Valley Transmission Study to consider transmission routes in south Colorado and northern New Mexico.

Laske briefed the San Luis Valley Commissioners Association at their meeting in Alamosa on Nov. 20, stating, "This is a grant to the federal Department of Energy to have a study done to have a large transmission line. This is not a line going to houses, it is to transport [electricity] solar out of the valley or energy coming in. This is a line to move energy in and out of the Valley."

Laske told the commissioners that a grant application for a study of Valley transmission lines submitted last year was not chosen. After learning the fate of that application, Laske said she searched for other grant opportunities and picked this Department of Energy grant that could finance a feasibility study. Formally, the grant application is known as a Transmission Siting and Economic Development (TSED) Program Concept Paper," and Alamosa County is the siting authority with Commissioner Laske as the technical point of contact. Laske added she hopeful, "at a later date to get all the San Luis Valley Commissioners to endorse and be a partner of this project.”

According to the concept paper, "The proposed URGV (Upper Rio Grande Valley) Transmission Study will increase grid resilience, enable the development and deployment of renewable energy and significantly increase economic opportunities in the communities affected by the construction and operation of a "covered transmission project."

The concept paper-application states that communities in south-central Colorado and northern New Mexico, "have identified strong interest in additional transmission lines and substations to provide interconnection points for a subsequent clean energy build-out." The region is "ideal for solar production," and, "the region currently only has just one transmission corridor, which runs north over a wooded mountain pass with high fire risk. Without redundancy, all power to the 50,000 residents in the SLV could be lost if there were to be a wildfire."

The San Luis Valley is home to several solar production facilities. In March, the Valley Courier reported on a 17.5-acre renewable energy storage facility being built off Lane 8N. Last month, Korsail Energy announced plans to build a 790-acre solar energy production and storage facility near Alamosa.

This is not the first attempt to build an additional line in and out of the Valley. In 2011, a permit was issued to Public Service of Colorado and Tri State Generation and Transmission to build a transmission line from Alamosa County over La Veta pass. That proposal was doomed after a large landowner objected to the plan that prevented the acquisition of the needed right of way.


If the proposed study is funded, it will analyze three transmission corridors, 1. East from Alamosa to Pueblo; 2. South from Alamosa to Northern New Mexico; and 3. Northwest from Alamosa then southwest to the Four Corners Area.

During the commissioners meeting, Laske listed the partners in the proposal: Colorado Energy Office, New Mexico Energy Office, New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Office, Colorado Electric Transmission Authority, Colorado Department of Transportation, New Mexico State University, San Luis Valley Commissioners Association, San Luis Valley Council of Governments. The San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative and Kit Carson Electric Cooperative are also partners.

In an interview with the Valley Courier, Alamosa County Commissioner Laske stressed that the concept paper-application she has submitted is a preliminary step that has yet to be approved.