Xcel Power’s New Backroom Deal Is Unhealthy for Coloradans and the Local weather

Proper now, Xcel Power’s draft Electrical Useful resource Plan is underneath evaluate by the Colorado Public Utilities Fee (PUC). This plan will decide how the state’s largest utility will present electrical energy to Colorado communities between now and 2050. Final week, only one week earlier than the PUC was set to listen to from Coloradans on the proposed plan in a public listening to, Xcel Power proposed some costly modifications as a part of a settlement made behind closed doorways with the Colorado Oil & Fuel Affiliation, State companies, and metropolis representatives.

Xcel’s proposed plan is a company giveaway that’s unhealthy for our local weather and unfair to Xcel prospects. It permits Xcel to proceed its dependence on soiled, costly fossil fuels, and additional delay the transition to inexpensive clear power. If the plan had been to cross as is, Xcel’s prospects can be pressured to pay extra for electrical energy to profit Xcel shareholders — whereas persevering with to should endure the well being issues stemming from fossil gas air pollution. This winter, the PUC has the chance to reject or considerably alter the settlement to guard Coloradans. 

Right here’s what you have to know concerning the proposal: 

  • It permits Xcel Power to burn coal for much too lengthy, which might impose pointless prices on its prospects:

The settlement would require the Comanche 3 coal plant to burn coal till 2035– 5 years longer than some other coal plant in Colorado. The Comanche 3 coal plant is essentially the most unreliable energy plant within the state, and has been stricken by operational issues, together with being offline for practically all of 2020 due to poor upkeep practices.  Why ought to Comanche 3, the least dependable of Xcel’s energy crops, run longer than some other coal unit in Colorado?  

Moreover, the coal plant is the biggest supply of local weather air pollution within the state and is positioned in Pueblo, a low-income, Latino group. This group doesn’t even get the electrical energy from the plant — simply the air pollution. When the PUC held a listening to in Pueblo in October 2021, residents expressed overwhelming help for retiring the coal plant by 2030 on the newest.

The settlement additionally permits Xcel to proceed to make use of its different coal units–Pawnee, Craig, and Hayden–when they don’t seem to be financial to take action, thereby growing prices and dangerous air pollution.  Xcel makes use of a apply referred to as “must-run designations”, wherein coal models are required to function even when they don’t seem to be financial to function.  The settlement permits Xcel to proceed to make use of this reckless apply for the Pawnee, Craig, and Hayden coal units–even although Xcel commits to ending this mindless apply at Comanche 3.  

  • It helps Xcel Power make its shareholders wealthy on the backs of Colorado ratepayers:

The settlement ensures Xcel value restoration for all the remaining steadiness of the Comanche 3 coal plant when it retires on the finish of 2034. Xcel estimates the undepreciated steadiness (ie, the prices that prospects haven’t but paid) on the coal plant will nonetheless be $658 million at the moment. So Xcel prospects will probably be on the hook to pay Xcel $658 million for Xcel’s unhealthy enterprise selections and mismanagement of Comanche 3 even after it retires. 

The settlement additionally ensures Xcel not less than $626 million in new company-owned electrical era assets to exchange the Comanche 3 coal plant after 2035. The extra assets Xcel builds and owns, reminiscent of new wind generators, photo voltaic panels, or gasoline crops, the extra money their shareholders make. Sometimes, Xcel has to interact in what’s referred to as an open supply solicitation course of that permits personal corporations to bid into with proposals. This course of forces Xcel, a monopoly, to compete towards personal corporations to construct new energy crops. The results of this competitors is decrease costs for clear power, which allows us to transition away from fossil fuels extra affordably than if Xcel is allowed to exclude opponents.  Sadly, the settlement mandates that Xcel will get to personal not less than $626 million value of those substitute resources–a large loss for Xcel prospects who may lower your expenses with a good solicitation course of that ensures prospects are getting one of the best deal attainable.

  • It may end in new gasoline crops that burn gasoline for many years to return:

The settlement permits Xcel to construct new gasoline crops and burn gasoline at them for so long as they need by assuming that new gasoline crops will run for not less than 40 years — lengthy after 2050, the date by which Xcel says it’s aiming to be carbon-free. Permitting Xcel to construct new gasoline crops will solely make it more durable for Colorado cities like Denver and Boulder to succeed in their targets of operating on 100% renewable power by 2030, and can make it more durable to attain Governor Polis’ objective of 100% renewable power in Colorado by 2040.

This settlement proposal is only one of many choices in entrance of the PUC proper now relating to Xcel’s power future. Notably, nobody has modeled the client prices or air pollution related to 2035 retirement of Comanche 3 and different provisions of the settlement. We don’t know precisely how a lot this backroom deal would value Coloradans — financially or by way of their well being — however we do know that Xcel will probably be assured tons of of tens of millions of {dollars} of charge restoration and new investments to line shareholder pockets. 

Colorado ought to demand extra from Xcel, which is a legally protected monopoly.  That is the PUC’s probability to require Xcel to do its half to fight the local weather disaster by cleansing up its power portfolio and delivering Coloradans with low-cost renewable power and storage options.

In case you’re all in favour of making your voice heard on this challenge, you may signal as much as give a verbal public remark to the PUC on December 2 HERE or submit a written public remark to the PUC HERE.

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