Paige Blankenbuehler
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November 9, 2012
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Xcel requests substation in Silverthorne

Xcel Energy is revisiting its proposed Ptarmigan substation in Silverthorne after a contentious proposal in 1999, filing a permit for the new substation Monday to Summit County officials.

The filing kicks off a review process with county officials with a public hearing to be announced.

"We have 30 days to review the material," said Lindsay Hirsh, planning manager for Summit County. "Our decision will likely not come before that. All dates have not yet been determined for our decision or the date of the public hearing."

Following the county process, Xcel is required to file a permit amendment application with the U.S. Forest Service.

The substation, which is to be completed in the fall of 2014, would help meet the current and growing demand for electricity in Summit County, according to Xcel officials.

The new substation would be located on private property on the north end of the former Heit Ranch, and the company has entered into a conditional agreement for the site.

"Based on our outreach efforts with officials, businesses, community residents and leaders and the public reaction at an October open house, we believe that we have found the best location for our substation," stated Jerome Davis, Xcel Energy regional vice president in a press release Monday. "The Ptarmigan substation will provide much-needed capacity, thus greatly improving reliability and the operations of our systems in the area."

The substation project includes improvements to an existing access road, two new buried distribution lines and an approximately 2,200-foot overhead double-circuit 230-kilovolt transmission line tap that will connect with the existing Xcel transmission line on the east side of the valley.

Xcel is shooting for a 2013-2014 construction period, but anticipates the substation to be operational by 2014.

"We're allowing a little extra time to work around inclement weather," said Mark Stutz, spokesman for Xcel.

The substation will improve reliability of service to customers in the Silverthorne, Dillon, Keystone and Frisco areas, which have shown an increase in customers since 2006, according to Stutz.

"We started to re-energize efforts to get a substation at that location in 2006 because of the growing need," Stutz said. "We are still seeing a 2-3 percent growth in the area on average."

According to Xcel, the new substation will add more power security to Summit County by strengthening the grid.

"An additional substation gives us the ability to step-down power and presents more options for shifting power feeds when there is an outage," Stutz said. "It offers greater reliability. Redundancy is a big thing in our industry. ... It's essentially a back up plan - if there's an incident, it allows us to get power on more quickly."

A substation plan for the site was denied in 1999 because it didn't fit with the visual requirements of the Lower Blue Master Plan.

"All of the 21 sites we examined are within the Summit County Lower Blue Master Plan, including all of Silverthorne," Stutz said. "The master plan does not preclude the construction of a new electric substation."

The first proposal initiated opposition from some Silverthorne residents in 1999.

The Lower Blue River Citizens Alliance was formed to combat Xcel Energy's proposed substation sites on the Daley Ranch in Silverthorne. The group has since disbanded.

"We have since looked at other sites for a substation and have come to the conclusion that the proposed Ptarmigan substation in Silverthorne is in the best place, given it's proximity to existing feeder lines," Stutz said. "We have resolved the issues from the first proposal in 1999."

A public hearing on the proposal will be scheduled after the 30-day review, according to Hirsh.


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The Summit Daily Updated Nov 9, 2012 01:52AM Published Nov 9, 2012 01:51AM Copyright 2012 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.