Senior Vice President/Transmission
The 60th year of our cooperative association
Tri-State crews and contractors are ramped up for another busy year of transmission maintenance and improvement activities that are aimed at providing efficient and reliable service to our member systems.
Like any major infrastructure, ongoing system improvements are necessary to keep pace with demands on our system and are required to serve the growing loads of our member co-ops. Expansion of the transmission system also makes economic sense when it reduces costs associated with relying on other utilities to serve our loads.
By building or upgrading transmission lines on some of Tri-State’s critical load serving paths, we gain greater market liquidity to access the marketplace where we buy and sell power.
Of course, like many transmission systems, some of Tri-State’s lines are 50 to 60 years old and from a maintenance perspective, it makes economic sense to rebuild some of these lines rather than performing costly piecemeal repairs.
In 2012, we made a number of improvements to our power delivery system, including the addition of eight new delivery points to serve member loads and more than 100 miles of transmission line were either added or upgraded to higher capacity in anticipation of our continued growth and our ongoing mission of improving reliability and minimizing outage times to our member systems.
Notable among the projects completed during the past year were the upgrade of the 79-mile, 230-kilovolt Big Sandy-Lincoln-Midway line in eastern and southern Colorado and the long-awaited completion of the 51-mile, 115-kilovolt Nucla-Sunshine line and ancillary substations in southwestern Colorado.
Tri-State’s telecommunications network, which provides the association with vital transport and delivery of data, voice protective relaying, metering, SCADA, information technology and much more, also recorded many accomplishments during the past year, including the addition of 220 miles of new fiber optic cable routes across the system.
Looking ahead to 2013 and beyond, we anticipate increased activity in the ongoing asset purchase program that was established in 2010. This is a voluntary program which allows Tri-State’s member systems the option of selling all of their existing power delivery equipment that is 100 kilovolts or greater to Tri-State.
During the next several years we expect these acquisitions to more than double our transformer inventory, add hundreds of miles of transmission and scores of circuit switchers, battery systems, substation control buildings and other equipment owned by our member co-ops.
In terms of projects that are in the pipeline, we expect to complete the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) and local permitting process activities this year, which will allow us to begin the construction phase in 2014 of the 65-mile, 230-kV Burlington to Wray transmission line in eastern Colorado. This new power path is critical to relieve capacity and functionality constraints in the area.
We also have begun the planning process to provide vital system upgrades to southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The proposed 118-mile, 230-kV San Luis to Carson Transmission Project, which would extend along a southerly route from the San Luis Valley Substation into northern New Mexico, presents an alternative solution to bolstering reliability in that region.
In some instances we are taking a "big picture" approach to regional transmission planning by working with neighboring utilities in the region to look at mutually beneficial projects that would improve the overall system, while reducing Tri-State’s project costs.
Of course, our goal in all of these endeavors continues to center on improving the performance and efficiency of our entire system while safely and reliably delivering power to our member systems at the lowest possible cost.
Updated: March 27, 2013