With support from 14 stakeholders, Xcel Energy's Colorado combination utility, the state's largest natural gas provider, on Tuesday unveiled a $2.5 billion plan for the next decade, calling for 1,700 MW of wind and solar, backed up by 700 MW of additional gas-fired generation. Early retirement of coal plants is also included.
A decision by the Colorado Public Utility Commission (PUC) is being sought by the end of the year to create a portfolio that includes the coal unit retirements and replacing that baseload generation capacity. Included in the retirement by the end of 2025 for two 660 MW coal-fired units at the Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo.
The proposal supports the "Our Energy Future" plan launched last year, which included a plan for a utility natural gas reserve program. If approved, the initiative could increase Colorado’s reliance on renewable sources by 55% in 2026.
Xcel said the proposed portfolio mix would only be implemented if it is confirmed that it would reduce, or at least not add, to energy costs for Colorado customers.
The plan calls for a "proactive and widely supported electricity generating portfolio to augment the company's current Electric Resource Plan," a spokesperson said.
New natural gas and renewables generation projects are to be identified and selected through a soon-to-be initiated competitive acquisition process targeting independent power producers, with the Xcel utility forecasting an investment of 50% in renewables and 75% in gas-fired generation, storage or renewable-with-storage generation resources.
The mix as designed would be 700 MW of gas-fired generation, 1,000 MW of wind and 700 MW of solar.
PUC staff, along with the Public Service Company of Colorado and other state agencies have agreed to the initiative, along with various industry, labor and stakeholder groups.
"If approved, the PUC will have the opportunity to evaluate transitioning our power production away from coal and toward less expensive clean renewable resources," said Erin Overturf of the Western Resource Advocates (WRA), one of the supporting stakeholder groups.
The coalition of 14 diverse groups backs a stipulation that Xcel filed with the PUC, estimating the plan could lead to a $2.5 billion investment in “clean” energy investments in rural Colorado.