Xcel Energy hopes to haul as much as 900,000 tons of coal a year on 13.5 miles of Routt County Road 27.
The Routt County Regional Planning Commission will hear its request Thursday. A key issue related to the request is how much coal Xcel Energy can haul on the road without making road improvements.
"At some point, you're going to say, 'Hey, you're just going to need to fix the road first,'" Routt County Planner John Eastman said. "That road is just not built to take that."
The request would amend a permit granted in 2000 that allows Xcel Energy to haul 300,000 tons of coal a year from Twentymile Coal Co. That permit, which originally was meant for emergency hauls, expires in 2006.
The proposed haul would be a temporary solution. Officials are working on a permanent method of getting coal from Twentymile to the Hayden Power Station, which is owned by Xcel Energy. Options for a permanent solution will come before the Routt County Board of Commissioners next week.
The Hayden Power Station previously relied on Peabody Energy coal, but those mines are expected to close later this year.
Last year, Routt County approved a permit to let Xcel Energy haul 1.8 million tons of coal each year on the road. The permit would have lasted about 20 years, but also required that Xcel make major road improvements to C.R. 27.
That permit has not yet been activated, Eastman said.
In the proposed amendment to the 2000 permit, Xcel would pay $1 per ton of coal hauled for road improvements. However, Xcel is not proposing to make the road improvements that the county required in the 1.8 million haul.
Hauling 900,000 tons on the road each year would mean trucks making 230 one-way trips each day, according to the permit application.
For other applications, road improvements often are required even if there is a lot less effect on the roads, Eastman said. For instance, major road improvements have been required in some new subdivisions, and a gravel pit owner was required to make road improvements related to a pit from which 180,000 tons were hauled each year.
"We're already beyond the threshold of where we've traditionally required road improvements to be done," Eastman said, referring to trucks on C.R. 27.
In addition to the 300,000 per year that Xcel currently hauls, Twentymile has a permit to haul another 360,000 tons to Wyoming.
Eastman said he has not received calls or letters from residents in the area expressing concerns about the proposal. In similar permits, a primary concern has been school buses, but there are not school buses on C.R. 24 now, he said.
The Routt County Regional Planning Commission will consider Xcel's request to amend its permit at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Commissioners Hearing Room of the Courthouse Annex. County commissioners will make a final decision on the request April 26.
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