August 30, 2017 Read More →

In Ongoing Shift From Coal (and Announcement of Two Closures in Colorado), Xcel Says It Has Found ‘the Right Formula’

The Denver Post:

Xcel Energy on Tuesday continued its shift away from coal, announcing an agreement to retire two of its three coal-burning units at the Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo while adding substantially more wind, solar and natural gas generation.

Xcel Energy will request competitive bids before the end of the year for 1,000 megawatts of additional wind, 700 megawatts of solar and 700 megawatts of natural gas power generation under its “Colorado Energy Plan.”

The state’s largest utility also said it will retire 660 megawatts of coal-generated power from Comanche Unit 1, built in 1973, and Comanche Unit 2, built in 1975. It will continue to operate the newer and cleaner coal-fired Unit 3, which came online in 2010 and has a capacity of 750 megawatts.

“It is really about the economics,” David Eves, president for Xcel Energy in Colorado, said of the retirements, which will take place before the end of 2022 and 2025. “From the company’s perspective, this plan is a response to our customers”

The Trump administration has made restoring coal’s prominence as a generation source and preserving mining jobs a priority. Eves said the company strongly supports “decarbonization,” but only when it makes financial sense. The decision to go with gas, solar and wind over coal, he said, wasn’t so much political as economic.

“The fundamental economics of these technologies (wind and solar) is what is making these dramatic changes possible and beneficial to consumers,” he said.

Customers are pushing Xcel for greener and lower emission energy sources, but also want reliability and lower costs, Eves said. The company thinks it has found the right formula and on Tuesday filed a stipulation to its 2016 electric resource plan that is before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

More:  Xcel Energy plans to retire two coal-fired plants in Pueblo, increase renewables