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PUC rejects minimum-transmission requirement for line  

Credit:  By Greg Griffin, The Denver Post, www.denverpost.com 11 February 2011 ~~

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission today declined to impose a condition on a transmission line in southern Colorado that might have caused Xcel Energy to back out, a big step forward for the controversial project.

Commissioners Ron Binz and Matt Baker rejected an administrative-law judge’s recommendation that Xcel refund half the cost of the line to ratepayers if it fails to carry at least 700 megawatts of power within 10 years of completion. Commissioner James Tarpey has recused himself from the case.

Xcel and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, its partner in the project, had objected to the conditions. Xcel had said it would back out of the $180 million project if regulators imposed the condition. Representatives of both companies said they were pleased with the PUC’s decision. The proposed transmission line – from the San Luis Valley over La Veta Pass to the Front Range – is intended to carry newly developed solar and wind energy.

Lawyers for Trinchera Ranch owner Louis Bacon, whose property the line will cross, oppose the line and supported the minimum-transmission condition. They left the PUC meeting after the issue was decided, and weren’t immediately available for comment.

A written ruling supporting today’s bench order by the PUC is expected to be issued in the next few weeks.

Source:  By Greg Griffin, The Denver Post, www.denverpost.com 11 February 2011

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