In Colorado Xcel Energy could invest $2.5 billion to build out up to 700 megawatts of solar, 1 gigawatt (GW) of wind and 700 MWs of natural gas in the state by 2026, while retiring two coal plants earlier than anticipated. At that point, roughly 55 percent of its electric resources would be renewables.
That’s under the “Colorado Energy Proposal” proposal Xcel Energy and 14 groups filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) earlier this week (Aug. 29). The proposal would augment its current 2016 Electric Resource Plan (ERP) and includes a stipulation that the new plan would only be implemented if it reduces, or keeps the cost of energy for its customers flat.
“We have a responsibility to meet our customers’ energy needs. Our customers expect us to provide low-cost power and increase the use of cleaner energy. As the state’s largest utility, it is important to us that we also support rural areas in Colorado, and this proposal’s investment will accomplish this goal,” said David Eves, president, Xcel Energy in Colorado. “The proposal could increase renewable energy to 55 percent by 2026, save customers money and dramatically reduce carbon and other emissions.”
The multi-estate utility has already reached high levels of renewable energy across its services areas. In 2016 it said it sourced 25 percent of its energy from renewables in Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico the Dakotas and more. But this new plan for Colorado will take it much further.
Xcel will soon initiate a competitive acquisition process for new electric generation under the plan. It will own up to 50 percent of the renewable energy sites and 75 percent of the new natural gas and energy storage systems under the proposal. The rest would be procured from independent power producers.
The proposal was supported by a wide range of groups, including Vote Solar and Western Resources Advocates (WRA). “Today’s filing starts a conversation about how Colorado will transition to the clean energy economy of tomorrow,” said Erin Overturf, WRA chief energy counsel.
“If approved, the commission will have an opportunity to evaluate transitioning our power production away from coal and toward less expensive clean renewable resources,” Overturf added. “Taking advantage of these low cost options now would reduce customers’ bills, while improving air quality and reducing greenhouse gas pollution that causes climate change. We ask the CPUC to consider this plan and welcome an open, collaborative conversation among all stakeholders to create our affordable, clean energy future.”
“We hope this agreement will make more room for affordable clean solar energy on the Xcel Energy system, while protecting the rights of customers to generate their own solar energy and receive fair credit,” said Rebecca Cantwell, executive director of the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA).
Cantwell’s organization supported the new proposal because it will lead to more rapid growth of solar power in the state and will reduce emissions. But COSEIA also stated it was emphasizing the importance of the Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment (RESA) to spur more distributed generation, like rooftop solar, in addition to the large scale renewables projects. However, Xcel energy said its filing included a reduction of the RESA to 1 percent from 2 percent, but that would not be until 2021 or 2022.Tweet