Growth and Reliability

Increasing electric load growth in the San Juan Basin region of Colorado and New Mexico have put a strain on the existing residential and industrial electrical system.

New electric transmission infrastructure for the San Juan Basin is critical to relieve transmission constraints, improve power delivery infrastructure and serve growing and new loads within the area served by Tri-State member La Plata Electric Association. Other benefits include additional support for gas and oil industry activities and enhanced economic development opportunities by enabling capacity for renewable energy.

Not only are new residential, commercial and industrial loads driving the need for additional capacity, but electric usage in existing developments is increasing as homeowners install more electrical devices such as air conditioners, high-definition televisions, computers and cell phones.

Oil and gas development is an importance industry in the region that creates jobs and helps drive the local economy. As many pumping and compression sites switch to electric-driven motors to reduce noise and emissions, the need to serve load growth is compounded.

Currently, the transmission path in the region is constrained and Tri-State must continually ensure that it meets numerous federal mandatory reliability standards. Any serious violations that could impact the integrity of the bulk power system could result in fines of up to $1 million per day by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).

Over the past several years, Tri-State, its member systems, and other regional utilities have been making several improvements to the electric system to maintain reliability. Most of the infrastructure in the region was built in the 1950s and aging equipment has been replaced and upgraded with more efficient technology. While improvements to the local system have helped, there is still a need to import additional power into the region to meet the needs of growing communities.

The San Juan Basin Energy Connect Project does not connect to new generation, nor does the load served by the project require the construction of new generation facilities. The SJBEC Project will connect to substations that are interconnected with other transmission lines or existing generation sources. For more information on how this project fits into the existing grid, click here.

 

Project Benefits

The proposed project would:

  • Improve the power delivery infrastructure to Colorado and New Mexico's San Juan Basin
  • Increase the load serving capabilities for residential, small business, and industrial electric consumers (including oil and gas developers)
  • Relieve transmission constraints for the region
  • Provide a pathway for potential renewable energy development
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