Skip to main content
(From left) Kiowa County Commissioners Mike Lening and Butch Robertson, and County Administrator Tina Adamson watch the first transmission tower being placed in Kiowa County. The foreman in the mid-ground is Jeff Goff, PAR Electric general foreman.
Steve Roalstad/Xcel Energy

First Xcel Transmission Pole Placed in Kiowa County on Wednesday, March 6: County Enters a New Future that Includes Renewable Energy


By Betsy Barnett

March 8, 2024

On a blustery early March 6th morning on the county line border between Cheyenne County and Kiowa County up on Highway 385 in extreme eastern Colorado history was made when the first Xcel transmission pole was placed in Kiowa County. The placement of that first pole harkens in an expected future industry in renewable energy including wind power, solar power, and power storage facilities.

To mark the important occasion Kiowa County Commissioners Mike Lening and Butch Robertson, and Kiowa County Administrator Tina Adamson were all present at the worksite in order to see history being made and to learn about the intricacies of the structure of the towers that are about to line up in Kiowa County.

According to Stephen Grenier, Xcel Lead Construction Manager, the basic structure of each pole includes a 35-40-foot-deep cement pad that has 16 heavy duty, large bolts secured into each lined up along the outer edge of the diameter of the cement pad.

This work is described as drilling holes for the pole foundations; installing anchor bolt cages and encasing them in concrete; and backfilling around the foundation with soil.

Next, comes the installation of the three-part pole. This process was observed by the county leadership, the Kiowa County Independent newspaper, and a few other interested individuals. A large crane first brings in the bottom third of the pole and sets it vertically, placing its bottom end on the cement base with the bolts. The approximately 90’ pole is secured to the bolts on the base by 6-8 workers.

Next comes the second one-third of the pole. This part begins with the cross sections of the structure with just one cross section on the second part of the pole. This part is raised by the crane and then the bottom of the pole part slides into the top of first part of the pole.

The final third, or the top third, contains two cross sections. Again, this final piece is lifted high above the structure with the crane and then brought down to fit into the second part. A workman is precariously on a lift in order to catch the top part and bring it together with the middle part.

When the three sections are in place, they form a transmission pole with three cross sections that stands 145’ tall. In all, it took less than a half hour to install the pole.

Genier told the county leadership that there’s a crew behind them, now in Cheyenne County, who will in the next few days arrive at this tower in order to secure each section and each pole. He indicated they will jack them with hydraulics in order to tighten them down into the slot connections.

Grenier told the interested crowd that there are currently 66 workers in four crews working on the construction part of the Xcel Pathways Project Segment 2.

Of note, he said, they hired Sarah Dwyer from Cheyenne Wells as a project coordinator at the end of January. She’s currently being sent to school, sort of speaking, where she will eventually become the project manager for this huge segment of the Pathways Project. Sarah will now be on site helping to move the construction of the line, making sure it moves smoothly through Kiowa County.

There are evidently four crews working on the project segment with each crew performing a specific job. The crew that digs the deep pad holes and fills them with cement and places the connecting bolts is one crew. The next crew brings the towers and crane and sets them up in section order so that the third crew can then come in and make sure the pole sections are bolted down well and the sections are hydraulically secured together. The final crew, which is still in Cheyenne County and about two weeks out, is the wiring crew.

Grenier expects the framing crew will reach the May Valley Substation, the end of Segment 2 in a couple of weeks. The wiring crew will take a couple of months to get there. Throughout this phase of the project, it is Grenier’s job to inspect and report on every aspect of the framing and pole setting.

The Pathways Project is Colorado’s Power Pathway is a $1.7 billion investment to improve the state’s electric grid and enable future renewable energy development around the state. Colorado’s Power Pathway will increase electric reliability, boost the regional economy and create jobs during construction.

The system will span twelve counties, primarily in eastern Colorado, and include:

  • Approximately 550 miles of new double-circuit transmission line
  • Four new and four equipment additions or expanded substations
  • First segments in-service by 2025, with other segments complete in 2026 and 2027

Cheyenne and Kiowa County are currently involved with Segment 2 of the overall Pathways Project. Segment 2 spans from the northern part of Cheyenne County where they are building a substation facility called the Goose Creek Substation. This substation connects to lines north in another segment. Segment 2 runs south mostly along Highway 385 through Cheyenne and Kiowa Counties down to the end of the line of Segment 2 called the May Valley Substation. This new facility will be built two miles south, two miles west, and three miles south of Sheridan Lake near the Kiowa and Prowers County border.

The construction phase from Goose Creek Substation has been going on for some time in Cheyenne County and it has now arrived in Kiowa County with the placement of the first pole along Segment 2 in Kiowa County on Wednesday. Construction of Segment 2 is estimated to be completed in 2025 including the completion of the Goose Creek and May Valley Substations.

But Kiowa County will continue to play a major role in the construction of the Pathways Project once Segment 2 has been completed. That’s when Xcel expects to continue their way to the west from the May Valley Substation across the entire length (running east and west) of Kiowa County, into Crowley County, and ending in Pueblo County at the next substations on the route called Sandstone Substation and the Tundra Substation. This future project is referred to as Segment 3 with a projected future time to start construction after 2025.

Segment 2 is projected to be up and running—thus bringing in solar and wind projects that will send their generated power over the new transmission lines—by 2025. Segment 3 is projected to be up and running in 2027.

A full description of the Pathways Project can be found with all Segments and their timelines at https://www.coloradospowerpathway.com/project-description/.

If you want to see the interactive maps for Segments 2 and 3 go to https://www.coloradospowerpathway.com/construction/.

Other News