Colorado utility Xcel Energy has received regulatory approval for a plan that will cut its carbon dioxide emissions 60%, boost renewable energy to 55% of its supply mix by 2026, and save ratepayers about US$213 million due to the falling cost of renewables.
“As part of the plan, Xcel, Colorado’s largest electric utility, will phase out its Comanche 1 and 2 coal-fired plants in Pueblo about a decade earlier than the original target date of 2035,” the Denver Post reports, while investing about $2.5 billion across eight counties.
All told, the plan will involve phasing out 660 megawatts of coal-fired generating capacity and adding about 1,100 MW of wind, 700 MW of solar, 275 MW of battery storage, and 380 MW from existing natural gas plants.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission accepted the utility’s Colorado Energy Plan by a 2-1 vote, with commissioners, staff, and supporters citing low wind and solar costs and improved battery technology as a “rare opportunity” to cut emissions and advance a clean energy economy.
“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,” said Xcel Colorado President Alice Jackson. “We are excited to move forward.”
Commissioner Wendy Moser, who had proposed an alternate plan with slightly less reliance on solar and storage, warned the strategy would cost money and coal plant jobs. “Xcel has said it will try to find other jobs for displaced workers,” the Post notes.
Boulder-based conservation group Western Resource Advocates said the plan will “dramatically cut carbon pollution, create hundreds of jobs, and invest in Colorado’s rural economy,” the paper adds.
“Colorado’s bold decision to invest in clean energy and a healthier future for the next generation shows what the public—and the marketplace—already know, that conservation and clean energy go hand in hand with a growing, healthy economy,” said WRA President Jon Goldin-Dubois.