Mar 30, 2011 8:02 PM by David Ortiviz

New Black Hills generating station halfway complete

Construction on the new half billion dollar power complex in Pueblo County is halfway there. For most Pueblo customers this means most of the power they use will be produced here.

Black Hills Corporation is building the complex east of CSU-Pueblo. There are eight natural gas-fired turbines at the new complex which is called the Pueblo Airport Generating Station. Electricity made there will shoot across transmission lines to roughly 93,000 customers in Southern Colorado.

This is a big deal for Black Hills Energy because right now it buys 75% of its power from Xcel Energy. The Pueblo Airport Generating Station will make the company more self-reliant. "Our customers here will experience the benefits of having rate based owned generation, which allows the cost to go down over time for customers as the assets depreciate," said David Emery, C.E.O of Black Hills Corp.

This company milestone also highlights a major transition. Black Hills Energy is preparing to shut down two coal-fired plants. One is located on the Pueblo riverwalk, the other in Canon City. Both are scheduled to shut down in 2013--partly mandated by state law. Black Hills says service to customers won't be affected.

"There will not be a diminishing of the the reliability of the supply in Canon City, or Victor, or Cripple Creek, or Pueblo, or Rocky Ford or any other of the 22 communities we are privileged to serve," said Christopher Burke, Vice Operations, Black Hills Energy.

Black Hills is now seeking permission with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to make PAGS even larger, to help cover the shutdown of the Canon City plant.

Xcel will stop providing power to Black Hills on December 31 and the new power complex is scheduled to go online the next day.



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