Xcel to Retire 900 Megawatts of Coal-Fired Power

Xcel Energy, the largest electric utility in Colorado, Friday filed a plan with the Public Utility Commission that would bring it into compliance with Colorado’s new Clean Air Clean Jobs Act signed into law by Governor Ritter in April. The new law is designed to target encourage steep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants — and to effectively block the construction of any new ones.

The plan submitted to the PUC indicates Xcel would:

  • • Retire 900 megawatts of coal generation at Xcel’s Valmont (186 MW) and Cherokee (717 MW) power plants by the end of 2017 and the end of 2022, respectively;
  • • Repower Xcel’s Cherokee power plant with efficient, natural gas generation of 883 MW. The company also will switch to natural gas generation at the 111 MW Arapahoe unit four.
  • • Retrofit about 950 MW of coal-fired generation at the Pawnee (505 MW) and Hayden (446 MW) power plants with modern emission control technology.
  • According to Xcel, the cost of the plan, if accepted by the state PUC, would be $1.3 billion in new construction over the next 12 years.

    Xcel predicts a savings of approximately $225 million compared to traditional retrofitting of the plants with emission controls, but company officials say the savings would jump to $950 million if the federal government puts a price on carbon dioxide emissions.

    Once known for dragging its heels in terms of modernizing the electricity mix of its power plants in Colorado, over the last eight years, Minneapolis, Minn.-based Xcel Energy has aggressively pursued large-scale wind, solar and natural gas power plants with an intensity virtually unmatched in the investor-owned utility sector in any state.

    Article by Timothy B. Hurst, appearing courtesy Earth & Industry.

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