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Ranch joins power line opposition

Xcel Energy and the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association have filed with the commission for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the lines, which the companies say will increase the reliability of the grid in the valley and increase their ability to export electricity generated from wind and solar farms in Southern Colorado. ...An administrative law judge will hold a pre-hearing conference Friday in Denver to consider the intervention requests. The utilities commission has until Jan. 26 to decide on the applications by Xcel and Tri-State.

Ranch joins power line opposition; Neighbors along its route into the San Luis Valley are concerned.

ALAMOSA - The San Luis Valley's biggest ranch, along with a the country's fourth-largest natural gas producer, have filed with the state Public Utilities Commission to oppose a transmission line that would run from Pueblo through Walsenburg and into the valley.

Trinchera Ranch, which sits on 172,000 acres in northern Costilla County, and Oxy USA are among the 10 parties that filed this month to intervene with the utilities commission.

Xcel Energy and the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association have filed with the commission for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the lines, which the companies say will increase the reliability of the grid in the valley and increase their ability to export electricity generated from wind and solar farms in Southern Colorado.

But before the companies can commence construction on the $180-million project, they would have to go through a federally-required environmental assessment and secure land-use approvals from Alamosa, Costilla, Huerfano and Pueblo counties.

The parties requesting to intervene have not been... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Ranch joins power line opposition; Neighbors along its route into the San Luis Valley are concerned.

ALAMOSA - The San Luis Valley's biggest ranch, along with a the country's fourth-largest natural gas producer, have filed with the state Public Utilities Commission to oppose a transmission line that would run from Pueblo through Walsenburg and into the valley.

Trinchera Ranch, which sits on 172,000 acres in northern Costilla County, and Oxy USA are among the 10 parties that filed this month to intervene with the utilities commission.

Xcel Energy and the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association have filed with the commission for a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the lines, which the companies say will increase the reliability of the grid in the valley and increase their ability to export electricity generated from wind and solar farms in Southern Colorado.

But before the companies can commence construction on the $180-million project, they would have to go through a federally-required environmental assessment and secure land-use approvals from Alamosa, Costilla, Huerfano and Pueblo counties.

The parties requesting to intervene have not been required to submit complete arguments yet, but attorneys for the Trinchera Ranch pointed to environmental effects the line would have on the ranch, which sits on the west side of the Culebra Mountains and also cuts across the base of Blanca Peak. "Possible alignments of the proposed installation would affect some of the most environmentally sensitive areas and important wildlife habitat on the ranch," Trinchera's filing stated.

The most recent version of the proposed corridors for the line includes a segment that would take in the sections of the ranch that border U.S. 160 between the west side of La Veta Pass and the town of Blanca.

At the beginning of the year Tri-State planners eliminated a segment that ran south of Blanca Peak through the ranch after consulting the Colorado Division of Wildlife, which said the ranch is a wintering ground for deer, elk and antelope.

Trinchera's attorney also said his client would likely question the need for the project, the alignment and construction techniques of the line across the ranch and state laws seeking to foster the production and transmission of renewable energy.

Other anticipated arguments would come against any findings relating to noise and electromagnetic-field radiation standards for the project.

Oxy USA, which extracts carbon dioxide in Huerfano County near Sheep Mountain for use in natural gas drilling, has also opposed the the transmission line because the proposed corridor segments would interfere with the company's property, including a 115-kilovolt line, wells, easements and mineral rights.

Although it did not state its opposition to the project, the 82,000-acre Bar Nothing ranch which straddles Huerfano and Pueblo counties, has also filed to intervene in the case.

The Bar-Nothing is already battling Pole Canyon Transmission, which hopes to build a transmission line through the ranch and has filed condemnation proceedings against the Bar-Nothing in Pueblo district court.

The ranch notes that the lack of coordination between utility operators has put the ranch in a compromised position.

"Such lack of coordination has the extremely strong potential of abuse of Bar-Nothing's privately owned property by speculating utility companies," the filing stated.

Pole Canyon has also filed to intervene, noting that since it is further along in its quest to build a transmission line between the proposed Calumet substation near Walsenburg and the Comanche substation it proposes that Tri-State and Xcel include the company in an agreement to build the line.

Pole Canyon has already received land-use approval from Pueblo and Huerfano counties. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management must still conduct an environmental assessment of the route that runs through agency land.

An administrative law judge will hold a pre-hearing conference Friday in Denver to consider the intervention requests. The utilities commission has until Jan. 26 to decide on the applications by Xcel and Tri-State.

Lee Boughey, a spokesman for Tri-State, said his company would wait until the judge had ruled on the parties' requests to intervene before attempting to negotiate over any of their concerns.


Source: http://chieftain.com/articl...

JUN 21 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/20747-ranch-joins-power-line-opposition
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