Xcel Energy’s electric plan would halve carbon emissions and use renewable sources for 55% of electricity – The Denver Post

Xcel Energy Colorado has unveiled a new power plan that the utility estimates could save customers $215 million, halve carbon emissions and bring renewable energy sources to 55% of its electricity portfolio by 2026, according to a filing Wednesday with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. .

The filing, known as the 120-day report, would remove 660 megawatts of coal generation from the Commanche 1 and Commanche 2 plants in Pueblo and add 1,100 megawatts of new wind capacity, 750 megawatts of solar generation and 380 megawatts of sources of flexible gases. .

And in a new twist, the utility asked to add 275 megawatts of battery storage capacity that would allow it to store power from solar sources for use when the sun isn’t shining.

“Our recommended plan ensures long-term, low-cost renewable energy, stimulates
economic development in rural Colorado, and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions – while saving money for customers. It’s a solid plan that moves Colorado forward,” Alice Jackson, president of the state’s largest utility, said in a press release.

Xcel estimates its plan, which is subject to public review and regulatory approval, would generate $2.5 billion in new investment across eight mostly rural Colorado counties. The counties that will benefit are Adams, Baca, Boulder, Kit Carson, Morgan, Park, Pueblo and Weld.

Late last year, Xcel Energy faced an overwhelming response – 450 bids – when it launched requests for future power supply as part of its 2016 power resource plan. The wind and solar bids , in particular, were the lowest ever received by a utility in the country, and several were below the cost of coal, even with the inclusion of battery storage.

The utility had 120 days to come up with its preferred list, but asked state regulators for two-month extensions to work out logistical issues, such as the best locations so it could transport the new power on its grid.

It also appears that Xcel Energy has gone the extra mile to ensure that Pueblo County, which is losing two coal plants earlier than expected, one in 2022 and the other in 2025, would receive significant investment. Pueblo County is expected to accommodate 525 megawatts of solar generation at three sites. In a first for the state, two of the three sites are equipped with battery storage, or 225 megawatts combined.

“Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan is a true testament to how quickly the cost of clean energy is coming down. This plan makes it clear that we can power our communities with reliable, affordable and clean energy made in Colorado for Colorado,” said Zach Pierce, senior representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Colorado, in a statement.

Although further analysis is needed, he said the plan was a step in the right direction.

One of the concerns of environmental groups was the amount of gasoline-powered production Xcel would add to its future mix. Given how quickly renewable energy prices are falling, they feared the utility could quickly find itself with an unprofitable, carbon-emitting power source, especially if volatility returned to natural gas prices.

But the gas-fired generation the utility will turn to represents existing capacity rather than the construction of new plants, and it will own it.

The proposal cuts coal – responsible for 44% of electricity generation last year – to 24% by 2026. This reduction, however, could face opposition from the Trump administration, which has issued instructions to the Department of Energy to preserve the country’s coal. and nuclear capacity with a moratorium on plant closures.

Natural gas would drop from 28% to 23% of the mix, while wind would drop from 23% to 39%. The biggest winner would be solar, which is expected to grow from 3% to 13% of Xcel’s production in the state.

The PUC will hold public hearings on the 120-day plan before deciding in early fall.