Utilities knit the entire city together through a vast network of infrastructure, much of which goes unseen or un-noticed by the general public. Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) treats the city’s wastewater and oversees the delivery of potable and non-potable water, electricity and natural gas to city residents and others outside city limits. The city contains thousands of miles of utility transmission, distribution, and collection infrastructure and treatment facilities in varying states of use, quality, and capacity. When we talk about utilities, we refer to local, on-site facilities, as well as citywide integrated utilities.
Common Desired Elements
Certain qualities and elements should be widely encouraged, supported, and promoted for all areas of the city in the application of PlanCOS. These include the following:
- Implement new Smart Cities and smart systems technologies to reduce utility demand;
- Proactively respond to climate change and the federal and state regulatory environment:
- Provide cost effective, fiscally sustainable, and reliable service;
- Provide resilient utility facilities and infrastructure;
- Use renewable and sustainable resources;
- Provide capacity for future growth;
- Optimize utility system capacities where possible;
- Explore regionalization of utilities where it benefits CSU ratepayers;
- Coordinate with other infrastructure and improvement projects; and
- Provide for denser utility corridors that maximize developable space.
Utility typologies are as follows:
- Modern Upgrades
- Smarter Prospects
- Regional Roles
Typology 1: Modern Upgrades
The goal of this typology is to adaptively and systematically retrofit and modernize older buildings, facilities, and local utility systems to promote responsive and efficient resource use, production, and distribution, and to reduce negative impacts of utilities systems and use at local scale.
This typology looks at the current systems in place in the developed areas of Colorado Springs. With all the new technology and building techniques available, older buildings and developments can be upgraded to use less energy, water, and natural gas. At a local level, this includes the installation of smart grids, efficient water use infrastructure, and Smart City technologies. These areas encompass the majority of Colorado Springs, and therefore provide the most capacity to affect resource efficiency and management. These areas should continue to underground overhead utility lines as feasible, especially in conjunction with redevelopment efforts.
- Stable Neighborhoods: Retrofitting homes and buildings provides more possibilities, through the use of home energy monitors, solar panel installations, net-metering, energy efficient appliances, wise water use, and building techniques to retain heat and air conditioning. Within this area most utility upgrades will be building or site-based.
- Changing Neighborhoods: Neighborhoods that will see more opportunities for redevelopment in the future have a wider range of options to upgrade the utility infrastructure.
- Examples: Systematic installation of smart meters throughout the city, Neighborhood-specific undergrounding of local electric lines in older neighborhoods (i.e. Mill Street Neighborhood and Lake Ave.). Extension of non-potable water use infrastructure, to irrigate existing or potential streetscape landscaping (i.e. existing improvements on Briargate Pkwy. or potential new landscaping on Academy Blvd. in southeast Colorado Springs).
Typology 2. Smarter Prospects
The goal of this typology is to plan and build new utility systems that leverage new technology and Smart City initiatives. New utility systems will have the ability to track and manage resource use at different levels.
This typology encompasses the newest areas of Colorado Springs, the areas that are currently under construction or not-yet-developed (including large scale redevelopment projects). These areas have a lot of potential to build better systems that will last longer and that can embody the PlanCOS vision for Strong Connections. Integrating new systems in new developments, such as non-potable water systems, is generally easier than in existing neighborhoods. New development can also utilize more efficient and integrated electric consuming fixtures and infrastructure in building and development. Water use and required wastewater capacity can be reduced by using water efficient fixtures/appliances, and more xeric landscaping will reduce seasonal summer water demands.
- Examples: Banning Lewis Ranch development proactively designed non-potable water systems for large and connected parks and landscaped areas.
Typology 3: Regional Roles
The goal of this typology is to explore opportunities for regional collaboration to increase the capacity and supply of renewable water, high quality integrated wastewater treatment, and cleaner energy.
This typology encompasses options for acquisition, planning, design and construction efforts to expand utility service capacities and to provide system redundancies and risk reduction for all four utility services. These efforts should leverage existing water rights and buying power of the large customer base on the energy side, and provide for collaborative regional improvements that benefit CSU ratepayers. This includes additional natural gas transmission pipelines to service the city for system redundancy; and the construction of more or expansion of existing raw water storage facilities.
- Examples: Power plants, wind and solar farms, regional wastewater treatment, Arkansas River Basin storage, Colorado River projects, and Propane Air Plant for peaking capacity.