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Cherokee Pipeline Project

Cherokee Pipeline Project

The pipeline will deliver natural gas so that we can retire coal-fired units


Xcel Energy is implementing its Colorado Public Utilities Commission-approved Clean Air-Clean Jobs Plan by retiring three of our Cherokee Generating Station’s coal-fired units, adding a new natural gas plant, and switching a fourth unit to run on natural gas. A new pipeline is needed to deliver the natural gas to our Cherokee power plant for this conversion.

We will install 34 miles of new, 24-inch steel, high-pressure natural gas transmission pipeline from a new Fort Lupton natural gas metering facility to the Cherokee Generating Station. Construction on the pipeline begins in early 2014 and has an anticipated in-service date of October 2014. Work will occur in Adams and Weld counties and the cities of Brighton, Commerce City and Fort Lupton.


Cherokee Generating Station Repowering Project

Part of our implementation plan for Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act is the early retirement of 365 MW of coal-fired generation at our Cherokee Generating Station and replacing it with 921 MW of natural-gas generated electricity. We have retired Cherokee Unit 1 (May 2012) and Unit 2 (October 2011), and will retire Cherokee Unit 3 (by 2015). All three units operate on coal, and we will install a cleaner, more efficient natural gas plant (569 MW) at the plant site to replace this coal-fired generation We also will switch Cherokee Unit 4 from using coal to natural gas (352 MW).

Overall, we will increase Cherokee’s current generating capacity by 204 MW.

Here’s our anticipated project schedule:

  • Unit 2 (106 MW) was retired in October 2011
  • Unit 1 (107 MW) was retired in May 2012
  • Unit 1 (107 MW) and Unit 2 (106 MW) cooling towers' demolition started May 2012
  • Unit 1 (107 MW) and Unit 2 (106 MW) cooling towers' demolition complete June 2012
  • Unit 2 (107 MW) synchronous condenser in service June 1, 2012
  • Unit 2 (106 MW) baghouse demolition begins June 11, 2012
  • Unit 1 (107 MW) demolition starts October 2012
  • Unit 3 (152 MW) retired by 2015
  • New, 569 MW natural gas combined-cycle generating plant comes online in 2015
  • Unit 4 (352 MW) repowered to natural gas in 2017

On Feb. 22, 2012, the Adams County Board of County Commissioners approved, with conditions, the Areas and Activities of Statewide Interest and Conditional Use Permit Applications, allowing us to continue decommissioning equipment and facilities.

New pump equipment will be installed at the reservoir on the northwest corner of the plant property. This will allow the current make-up water ponds on the southwest corner of the plant property to be drained and then filled in August 2012.

The former pond site will house the new, 569 megawatt (MW) natural-gas combined-cycle power plant. This unit will replace the retired/retiring coal-fired Units 1, 2 and 3.

Demolition and construction activities at the generating station are expected to continue through 2017.

Route Maps

When considering possible routes for the natural gas pipeline these are some of the criteria and considerations we took into account:

  • Areas where we currently have rights of ways (ROW) or utilities easements exist. Using these areas also helps minimize risk of third-party damage to the pipeline.
  • High population areas
  • Wetlands and water use
  • Recreation areas, such as parks
  • Special status species
  • Additional environmental issues

Review our proposed and alternative routes by using the interactive map below. Or use the links to the below to download PDF maps of the proposed route by county or city.

Project Updates

September 16, 2014 - Crews have finished installing and testing the new natural gas pipeline.  They are working on cleaning and drying the line before putting it into service.

Additionally, crews are paving Brighton Boulevard just south of East 64th Avenue, and Brighton Road, north and south of East 77th Avenue. Crews will maintain two-way traffic during paving work.

Crews also are completing street striping and clean-up along roadways in all work zones.

Natural Gas Safety

The new natural gas pipeline project will meet and exceed federal and state standards and safety requirements. Safety measures will include extra mainline valves, remotely operated shut-offs, and continuous pipeline monitoring.

During pipeline installation, Xcel Energy will implement a corrosion prevention program to eliminate metal loss during the life of pipeline and to sustain pipe integrity. Before the pipe is lowered into the trench, a third party will x-ray all pipe welds. Before the pipeline is put into service, it also will be inspected internally with state-of-the-art inspection equipment. It also will undergo hydrostatic pressure testing where it will be filled with water and tested at a pressure one and a half times of what it will be operating under with natural gas.

After being put into service, the pipeline will be patrolled on annual, semi-annual, and quarterly intervals. How often a specific section of the pipeline will be patrolled will be based on its location and population density. The pipeline’s entire structural integrity will be inspected at least every seven years with in-line inspection tools.

Please visit this link for more information about natural gas safety.

Learn more about Xcel Energy’s natural gas pipeline integrity management programs  and  how we use natural gas to produce electricity. Watch the video.

Clean Air-Clean Jobs Plan Resources

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