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Xcel Energy operates the fourth largest and one of the fastest growing transmission systems in the United States. Our lines span 10 states with more than 1,200 substations and four major control centers in four states. We expect our transmission system to be worth more than $7 billion by the end of 2016. It is an area of our business that continues to expand as we plan for future load growth and seek ways to connect communities with renewable energy resources.

In 2013, we successfully executed more than $1 billion in capital investment in transmission. Reaching this investment level represents a complete cycle through the development stages for many of our large projects, including planning, engineering, and siting and permitting. We will invest just under $1 billion in transmission in 2014 and again in 2017 and 2018. This forecast reflects real projects with planned spend and does not include additional possibilities that may occur as new industry and regulatory developments evolve.

Using our Best Value Transmission Model, we are building transmission infrastructure at a reasonable or lower cost while meeting stakeholder expectations, which are higher today than in the past. The model involves developing key capabilities that include:

  • Internal expertise in every aspect of the transmission business
  • Key material and service alliances to ensure sufficient and timely resource availability
  • Ability to manage both our expertise and resources to minimize cost and risk

We are planning to create a standalone transmission company investment structure, or transco, in late 2014 to ensure we can compete on a level playing field with others who have taken this step in the implementation of FERC Order 1000. A transco will provide us with added financial flexibility and the ability to create partnerships as we look at transmission development opportunities inside and beyond our operating territories.

2013 Electric Transmission and Distribution Lines

Throughout our service territory we operate 284,335 conductor miles of transmission and distribution lines.

  Transmission Lines Distribution Lines Transmission and Distribution Lines by Voltage
      500 kV 345 kV 230 kV 161 kV 138 kV 115 kV <115 kV
NSPM 25,335 77,150 2,917 6,392 1,802 353 - 7,552 83,469
NSPW 9,843 26,824 - 1,152 - 1,572 - 1,739 32,204
PSCo 20,700 73,205 - 2,157 12,153 - 92 4,893 74,610
SPS 33,225 18,053 - 6,806 9,310 - - 12,380 22,782
Total 89,103 195,232 2,917 16,507 23,265 1,925 92 26,564 213,065
(Provided in conductor miles — a measure of the conductor in use on our system in miles; it accounts for all conductor phases or strands on a circuit)

Transmission Projects

transmission poles

Xcel Energy is participating in a number of regional initiatives to develop transmission throughout our service territories. We also have a number of company-specific projects underway. The transmission development process is challenging. It takes long-term commitment, as well as expertise and resources to successfully complete projects.

Our approach to transmission projects is based on the following principles:

  • A focus on customers
  • Collaboration and communication
  • The right plan
  • Policy and regulatory alignment
  • Stakeholder sensitivity
  • Expertise and innovation in execution
  • Development of all beneficial transmission

Transmission development is a 6- to 12-year process.

timeline for transmission development process showing a 6 to 12 year range

Read about our transmission projects.