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Campus gives Colorado Springs Utilities a place to try out renewable innovations

Advanced Tech Campus property.jpg
Posted at 6:25 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 07:25:20-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — The boom of new construction in southeast Colorado Springs needs power. So, Colorado Springs Utilities bought 160 acres near the airport, in part, to build a new substation.

"It's asy to see the large customers and new neighborhoods popping up every day," said Drew Latrell, Senior Project Engineer with Colorado Springs Utilities.

"This substation is going to tap into the transmission infrastructure that you see over my shoulder and help support all that new growth."

However, the Horizon Substation will only use a small fraction of the overall property.

"The substation is only about 13 acres but our total campus is 160 acres," Latrell said.

The rest of the land will be used as the Advanced Technologies Campus. Project Manager Pono Umiamaka explained that the idea is to have a place where new technologies in the utility sector can be tested at scale and help develop strategies to implement them in the city.

"It will be dealing with electric, gas, water, and wastewater," Umiamaka said.

Take electric cars, for example. It's easy to find a gas station to fill up our traditional internal combustion engine vehicles today. There are far fewer locations with electric vehicle charging stations. The campus will be used to test new charging station designs and help with the city planning needs to make them more widely available.

"We want to provide electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city and we're looking into that right now and we're planning for that," said Umiamaka.

The campus will also house a new solar array and test microgrid and battery storage systems. It will also laboratories to study distributed energy resources and advanced metering technology.

"That's what all of the other phases on this site will be responsible for is all of our research, development, and testing, all of our research development and testing for these technologies that we'll be looking at to lessen our carbon footprint," said Umiamaka.

The campus will also house the natural gas generators that will be used in the process of decommissioning the Martin Drake Power Plant.

Latrell hopes to begin construction of the substation in the fourth quarter of this year and have the facility operating by early 2023. Umiamka explained that different components of the Advanced Technologies Campus will be developed in phases in the coming years.