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article imageRegulators approve Xcel's plan to retire two coal-fired plants

By Karen Graham     Aug 28, 2018 in Business
Pueblo - Colorado regulators have approved Xcel Energy's plan to retire two coal-fired generating stations in Pueblo a decade early, part of a plan to bolster the utility's share of power from renewable sources.
The Colorado Public Utility Commission (PUC) on Monday voted to give preliminary approval to Xcel Energy's Clean Energy Plan. A formal written ruling will be issued in September, according to the Denver Post.
Xcel's Clean Energy Plan includes retiring two coal-fired generation plants in Pueblo a decade early, something that was first learned in June when the company first submitted its plan to state regulators.
As Xcel noted in June, Comanche Unit 1 will be retired in 2022, 11 years early, and Comanche 2 will be retired in 2025, about 10 years early. The two plants are capable of producing a combined 660 MW of coal-fired generation. With the phase-out, Xcel will invest $2.5 billion in eight counties and save customers about $213 million, thanks to the declining costs of renewable energy.
The two plants represent about one-third of Xcel Colorado’s remaining coal fleet. Under the proposal, the retirement of the two fossil-fuel plants would coincide with adding over 1.8 GW of renewables - solar and wind, along with 275 megawatts of battery storage, and 383 megawatts of existing natural gas assets.
The Comanche Generating Station  located just east of Pueblo  Colorado. The plant is owned by Xcel E...
The Comanche Generating Station, located just east of Pueblo, Colorado. The plant is owned by Xcel Energy. Its three units are coal-fired.
Jeffrey Beall (CC BY 3.0)
Alice Jackson, Xcel Energy Colorado president, said in a written statement: “The Colorado Energy Plan Portfolio is a transformative plan that delivers on our vision of long-term, low-cost clean renewable energy for our customers, stimulating economic development in rural Colorado, and substantially reducing our carbon emissions. We are excited to move forward.”
As part of Xcel's plan, the utility will two existing gas-fired generating plants in Colorado and add five solar farms and three wind farms. The new wind farms would be located in the north and east of Colorado, while about 500MW of the planned solar additions and 225MW of battery storage plants would be in the south of the state, with the rest located in the north and west.
Commissioner Wendy Moser says shutting down the coal plants earlier than planned isn’t “going to be free.” She cited the 80 jobs that would be lost between 2022 and 2025, although Xcel noted they would try to find jobs for the displaced workers. “Customers will pay higher rates” to cover the costs, said Moser, who does agree with closing the coal plants.
More about Colorado, xcel energy, coalfired generators, Renewables, Clean energy
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