Xcel Energy’s latest round of bids for energy projects in Colorado has resulted in record-low median cost wind and solar projects with energy storage. The median price for the 59 solar plus energy storage bids came in at $36 per megawatt hour, $9 less per megawatt hour than the $45 per MWh seen in Tucson, AZ in May 2017. Wind and energy storage came in at even lower costs, $21 per MWh, also a record.
“The response to this solicitation is unprecedented with 430 total individual proposals (238 total projects) received from bidders,” Xcel said its 2017 All Source Solicitation 30-Day Report. “Over 350 of these individual proposals are renewable energy proposals or renewable energy with storage proposals. For comparison, the company received 55 bids in the 2013 All- Source Solicitation.”
The bids are for projects that will come online by 2023. By 2026 the utility anticipated that it will produce 55 percent of its energy from renewables under the plan.
The company only offered the median prices of the projects in the filing so the actual lowest-cost bids for solar projects with energy storage could be lower for the technologies. The costs for wind an solar alone were also low at $18.10 per MWh for wind power and $29.50 per MWh for solar power, showing that energy storage prices are adding as little as $3 per MWh to the cost of a project. Still, the report offers little detail as to the size of the energy storage components of the proposed projects.
“As far as we know, these are the lowest renewables plus storage bids in the US to date,” wrote Carbon Tracker’s Senior Analyst Matt Gray and Data Scientist Laurence Watson. “These changes highlight the dramatic declines in storage costs and reveal just how uncompetitive coal has become.…Based on our modeling, the median bid for wind plus storage is lower than the operating cost of all coal plants currently in Colorado, while the median solar plus storage bid is lower than 74 percent of operating coal capacity.”
“Despite the intentions of the Trump Administration, it seems coal is not coming back and will likely remain at the mercy of cheap gas and renewables,” the Carbon Tracker authors concluded.
Indeed, when Xcel Energy unveiled its Colorado Energy Plan in August 2017 it said it would accelerate the retirement of two of its coal-fired power plants at the Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo, totally 660 megawatts of electric generation. At that time it also announced it was soliciting proposals for up to 1,000 megawatts of wind up to 700 megawatts of solar and up to 700 megawatts of natural gas and/or energy storage.Tweet