Coal Plant, Colorado

Colorado Coal Plants–$380 Million in Pollution Control for the Aging Pawnee and Hayden Coal Plants

Submitted by Leslie Glustrom

Colorado’s “Clean Air Clean Jobs” coal plant retirement/retrofitting docket at the Public Utilities Commission (Docket 10M-245E) has led to plans to retire most of Xcel’s coal plants in the Denver metro area. This is an important step forward in the process of modernizing Xcel’s generation system and supporting the addition of more renewable energy in the coming years and decades.

Unfortunately, Xcel “slipped” in the addition of expensive pollution controls to the Hayden coal plants (west of Steamboat Springs) and the “Pawnee” coal plant (in Brush, northeast of Denver.) The polllution controls would cost about $380 million and would extend the lives of the coal plants until 2025 and beyond.

The “Pawnee” and Hayden coal plants–along with the newly built and retrofitted “Comanche” plants in Pueblo– are the last coal plants on Xcel’s Colorado system.

If Xcel proceeds with the pollution controls on “Pawnee” and Hayden, then it becomes more difficult to advocate for the retirement of these coal plants and there will not be a way to get significant CO2 reductions from Xcel’s Colorado system for many years.

The details on the proposed pollution controls are summarized here:

  • Hayden 1 is a 45-year-old coal plant worth about $32 million to Xcel. Adding selective catalytic reduction for nitrogen oxide control is expected to cost about $67 million, or more than twice the existing value of the coal plant. After retrofitting, Xcel intends to operate Hayden 1 until 2025.
  • Hayden 2 is a 34-year-old coal plant worth about $28 million. The SCR pollution controls would cost about $80 million. After retrofitting, Xcel intends to operate Hayden 2 until 2036.
  • Pawnee is a 29-year-old coal plant worth about $238 million. The proposed pollution controls for nitrogen, sulfur and mercury are expected to cost about $236 million. After retrofitting, Xcel intends to operate the “Pawnee” coal plant until 2041.

None of the pollution controls will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas.

Colorado PUC Decision C10-1328 in the Clean Air Clean Jobs docket is attached below along with the “RRR” (Application for Rehearing, Reargument or Reconsideration–i.e. appeal) from Leslie Glustrom questioning the wisdom of these pollution controls.

Colorado citizens will continue to question whether retirement is not the better option for these aging coal plants in order to transition to truly clean generation that begins to stabilize electric utility rates.

Photo courtesy of dgrinbergs

Attachment Size
Decision No. C10-1328 Docket No. 10M-245E Final Order 463 KB
Docket No. 10M-245E Glustrom Rehearing Reargument or Reconsideration of C10-1328 745 KB

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