Steamboat Springs Officials of Xcel energy are preparing a proposal to increase electrical capacity into Steamboat Springs for submission to the county Planning Department.
But they want to get more public reaction to the proposed route of a new power line first.
"It's a matter of what specific route it will take, the types of structures (towers) and lines," Xcel's Steve Roalstad said. "We think we've identified the best alternative so far. Some people won't be happy. But (the plan) has clearly moved away from what most people did not want to see."
Xcel will host an open house from 2 to 7 p.m. today at Yampa Valley Electric Association to provide details to the general public and listen to people's responses.
The intent of the project is to bolster the backup capability of the existing lines to keep pace with recent growth in the community. Xcel began the process by identifying eight possible alternatives to accomplishing that mission. People attending today's open house will learn about the need for a second 230-kilovolt transmission line and the route that has been chosen for the line.
The utility would like to build higher-capacity lines on a course that would wrap around the west side of Emerald Mountain and terminate at the existing substation on Steamboat's near west side. The main power line serving Steamboat already follows that path.
One alternative is to route the new 230-kilovolt line along the path of the existing 230kv line. However, Roalstad said Xcel's tentative route would not exactly parallel the existing line.
The new power line would give Steamboat a looped system, providing more reliable backup in case the primary transmission line goes down in the future.
Local rural electrical cooperative Yampa Valley Electric Association has a long-term contract making Xcel its exclusive power vendor.
Xcel's Mike Diehl said Steamboat currently relies on the smaller 69kv Mount Harris line as its backup in case the existing 230kv line goes down. That 69kv line used to offer adequate backup, but growth in the community has changed that, he said. Diehl is Xcel's principal agent for siting and land rights.
The new 230kv line could either be built on smaller towers paralleling the existing Hayden/Wolcott power line that serves the city, Diehl said. Or, new towers capable of carrying both 230kv lines could be built. The existing towers aren't engineered to carry both lines.
The utility wants to hear more from the public before making a decision on whether to build the second smaller tower or to build a new larger line to carry both the primary and backup lines.
"That decision has not been made yet," Roalstad said. "We've had a good public process so far and we want to get more reaction on the final portion of the route."