RAPID/BulkTransmission/Colorado/Land Access

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Colorado Bulk Transmission Land Access(3-CO)

In order to develop transmission lines on state land in Colorado, developers must gain legal access to the land by obtaining any required rights-of-way (ROW) lease over state lands or necessary permits to encroach on existing state ROWs.

The Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners also known at the Colorado State Land Board (CSLB) is responsible for the management and administration of transmission lines that cross state land or state trust land.

State Land Right of Way

If any portion of the project, such as roads, power lines, or pipelines, will cross over or occupy certain state land under the jurisdiction of the CSLB, the developer will need to obtain a right of way (ROW) lease by submitting a complete Application for Grant of Right of Way to the CSLB.Colorado - C.R.S. 36-1-136 - Rights of Way Granted - Reversion All state ROW leases are subject to conditions imposed by the CSLB [1] and are subject to local government permitting and zoning restrictions.[2]

Encroachment

If components of the project will encroach on existing state highway or other public ROWs, the developer must obtain permission from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) by submitting a CDOT - Utility/Special Use Permit Application in accordance with Rules 2.2.1.1 and 1.4.2.112. Similarly, if the project requires the construction or modification of access points on state highway ROWs, the developer must submit a CDOT - State Highway Access Permit Application.

Local Process
Under state law, Colorado counties and municipalities are given broad authority to plan for and regulate the use of land within their jurisdictions.[3] State statutes give local governments (counties and municipalities) the authorization to;

  • Appoint planning commissions[4][5] which are required to prepare and adopt master plans or comprehensive plans for physical development within their jurisdictions.[6] These regulations apply unless the county population is less than 15,000 people. In these cases, the board of county commissioners acts as the planning commission or may appoint a separate body to do so. Master plan or comprehensive plans may contain information relevant to the siting of high-voltage transmission lines.
  • Establish zoning districts for land use regulation.[7][8] Local government zoning codes may contain information relevant to the siting of high-voltage transmission lines.
  • Adopt subdivision regulations. Subdivision regulations are required of counties [9] and are optional for municipalities. [10] Subdivision regulations may contain information relevant to the siting of high-voltage transmission lines.
  • Regulate matters of statewide interest.[11]

In 1974, HB 1041 was enacted which allows local governments to voluntarily adopt regulations to identify, designate, and regulate through permitting “areas and activities of state interest” which are defined by the statute.[11] Route selection and construction of major facilities of a public utility are considered an activity of state interest.[12] “Major facilities of a public utility” is defined in the statute to include transmission lines, power plans, and substations of electrical utilities [13], but the definition of “transmission lines” by voltage may vary by local government.

Many, but not all , local governments in Colorado have adopted such “1041 regulations” and require “1041 permits” or “Areas and Activities of State Interest” permits for required activities. Some counties require a 1041 permit in addition to another permit, such as a Special Use or Conditional Use permit. Local governments that have not adopted 1041 regulations have various land use permitting requirements for transmission lines that include Conditional Use Permits, Special Use Permits, or other land use permits.

Specific requirements of local government 1041 regulations vary, but 1041 permitting processes are governed by time limits identified in state law. Local governments must make final decisions within 120 days of the utility's submission of a preliminary application (if required), or within 90 days after submission of a final application. The time periods begin when the application deemed complete according to the rules of the local government. If an application is deemed incomplete, the local government must notify the applicant of the information required to complete the application within 28 days of the application submittal. If the local government does not take final action within the applicable timeframes, the application shall be deemed approved. [14] Links to examples of local government 1041 regulations are provided on the website of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

Colorado Federal

State Land Right of Way Agency: Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners
State Land Right of Way Process: Transmission companies authorized to do business in Colorado have the right to "obtain a permanent right of way" to construct and maintain transmission lines across all public lands owned by the state. The developer must pay any due compensation and comply with Board of Land Commissioners requirements. Colo. Rev. Stat. §38-5-102.
State Highway Right of Way Agency: Colorado Department of Transportation
State Highway Right of Way Process: Transmission companies authorized to do business in Colorado have the right to construct and operate transmission lines "across, upon, and under any public highway" in the state so long as the transmission lines do not obstruct usual highway travel. Colorado – Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 38-5-101 et seq., Rights-of-Way: Transmission Companies. If the transmission project will encroach on state highways then the developer must file a Utility/Special Use Permit Application with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). Projects that modify access points require CDOT approval of a State Highway Access Permit Application.
Eminent Domain: Electric transmission companies are "vested with the power of eminent domain" and can obtain rights-of-way by condemnation for transmission lines in the case that developers are unable to secure rights of way through contract. Colo. Rev. Stat. §38-5-105.

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List of Reference Sources

  1. Colorado - C.R.S. 38-5-102 - Right of Way Across State Land (2014).
  2. Colorado - Colo. Const. Art. IX Sec. 10(1)(c) (2014).
  3. Colorado - C.R.S. 29-20-104 (2014).
  4. Colorado - C.R.S. 30-28-103 (2014).
  5. Colorado - C.R.S. 31-23-202 (2014).
  6. Colorado - C.R.S. 30-28-106 (2014).
  7. Colorado - C.R.S. 30-28-111 (2014).
  8. Colorado - C.R.S. 31-23-301 (2014).
  9. Colorado - C.R.S. 30-28-133 (2014).
  10. Colorado - C.R.S. 31-23-214 (2014).
  11. 11.0 11.1 Colorado - C.R.S. 24-65.1-101 (2014).
  12. Colorado - C.R.S. 24-65.1-203 (2014).
  13. Colorado - C.R.S. 24-65.1-104 (2014).
  14. Colorado - C.R.S. 24-65.1 (2014).