Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy’s network of 3.5 million electric and 2 million natural gas utility customers spread over eight western and Midwest states will not need any new baseload generation plants or new gas infrastructure during the next seven to nine years, CEO Dick Kelly told Xcel’s annual shareholders meeting Wednesday in Denver.

Noting there is still no silver bullet in terms of dealing with a long-term solution to nuclear waste, Kelly said the upgrades at two Minnesota nuclear generation plants are the only activity in that power sector for Xcel in the next five to 10 years. He didn’t rule out more activity longer term, however.

“We will not do anything [regarding nuclear] in Colorado,” he said in response to a question regarding the Obama administration’s interest in expanding nuclear generation. “We don’t need another baseload plant. Between conservation and renewables we’re in pretty good shape for the next seven, eight, nine years before we will have to make a decision. Hopefully by then nuclear will be on a more fast-track basis and be more reasonably priced.”

In response to a question about Questar Corp.’s announcement at its annual meeting Tuesday that it will be spinning off its natural gas division from its utility division (see Daily GPI, May 19), Kelly made it clear that Xcel is not looking to buy new gas assets. “The [Questar] gas properties are mostly in Utah and Wyoming,” Kelly said. “And we’re not looking to expand our gas properties at the moment. I would say that if we were to do anything in would be within the states in which we now operate.”

Kelly gave a similar response to another question about a new Colorado state law encouraging old coal plants to be retired and new natural gas and renewable facilities developed in their place (see Power Market Today, April 30). As called for in the new state law, Xcel’s Public Service Company of Colorado utility will submit its plans for compliance to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Aug. 17, Kelly said.

“The commission will decide on it by December this year, and the plan has to be implemented by 2017,” Kelly said. “We will basically look at a base case of what it would take to clean up the coal-fired plants and compare those costs to other alternatives, such as looking to natural gas and permanently shutting down the old plants. That’s where the PUC would get involved, and the cost of all that would be put in rate base for the Colorado operations.”

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