Xcel to store natural gas in Breckenridge in case of subzero temperatures | SummitDaily.com

Xcel to store natural gas in Breckenridge in case of subzero temperatures

This map shows the proposed site for natural gas tanks on Coyne Valley Road, which Xcel is keeping in Breckenridge in case the temperatures drops under 30 degrees below zero.
Town of Breckenridge/Courtesy image

The Breckenridge Town Council approved a temporary use of town land adjacent to Coyne Valley Road to support several tanks and equipment that will be used to supplement the supply of natural gas to Breckenridge when temperatures drop to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Though it has been a while since temperatures have dropped that low, town engineer Shannon Smith said current models show that there are system constraints north of town. Xcel engineers are predicting that natural gas cannot be reliably supplied to customers during these extreme cold events without injecting either compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas into the system. According to a town memo, Xcel will dispatch employees when temperatures hit 17 below zero. National Weather Service data shows that the last time temperatures in Summit County dropped to at least minus 30 was in 2011, when the record low was minus 32 degrees. Other years got close though, with temperatures dropping into negative teens and 20s.

Seventy years of climate data was used to determine what drops can be expected in system pressure and how much needs to be stored on site. 

“With the demands on the system now, they don’t think they can meet those demands when the temperatures drop,” Smith said. “So it’s the increase in development that’s caused this.” 

Some council members had concerns that the area where the tanks will be stored on the north end of town is visible from the highway, and it may be the first thing in town that visitors see when they drive on Colorado Highway 9 toward Breckenridge. There was consideration of locating the site at the Recycling Center on Coyne Valley Road. Another nearby site was ultimately selected because of its proximity to other Xcel facilities, such as transformers, which made it a more appropriate place for the tanks, Smith said. 

“This was the best location we could provide and recommend,” she added.

Xcel will work to find a permanent solution during the period of the temporary agreement. The area will be fenced for security and a trailer, tanks and other small equipment will be stored at the site. The agreement would last two years, and the tanks and equipment would be removed in spring of 2024. The town is poised to do new roadway improvements near the site, so the equipment will have to move once that project begins. Fencing around the site will likely be chainlink and will have fabric over it, similar to what it used for construction areas. 

“Obviously, we’d be in a tough position to say no, because this is our customers out there and if we get those temperatures and it hits, they will lose all gas service out there,” town manager Rick Holman said. “We can really, really push home the dire (need) for this to be aesthetically pleasing (and) to try to block it as much as possible, so that it’s not an eyesore.”

Council member Jay Beckerman said he would feel more comfortable with Xcel using the space for one year instead of two years. 

“I think if we do it as aesthetically pleasing as possible and if they’d be having some sort of sensitivity with the fence and all that stuff, it’s not going to look any worse in the Recycling Center,” council member Jeff Bergeron said. 

Staff recommended to process a Class D development permit, a right-of-way permit and a revocable license agreement, which means that the town can revoke the license if any problems occur. 

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