In a dramatic reversal, Xcel announced today that it plans to phase out all of its coal generation as quickly as possible. This will involve the retirement of billions of dollars’ worth of coal plants, but Xcel has offered to pay these costs, recognizing that it made some bad investments and it’s their duty to make it right.
The announcement emphasized that renewable generation is simply the cheaper option for rate payers and it avoids the expensive maintenance and fuel costs required to keep coal plants running.
“Wind and solar prices have come down so dramatically that they are a shoo in, they are even cheaper than buying coal for existing power plants,” said one utility. “We plan to transition now and stop throwing good money after bad.”
In addition to the economic benefits of transitioning to new technologies, Xcel has voiced concerns about the state of our climate. They are concerned that rising temperatures, increasing numbers of natural disasters, and frightening rises in sea level are too large a price to pay simply to maintain the status quo.
“I visit Glacier National Park each year with my family, and its striking recession has really opened my eyes to the costs of generating dirty electricity,” a manager admitted. “If the government won’t put a price on carbon, we will take on the responsibility of making responsible decisions ourselves.”
Paradigm Shift Leaves Fracking Behind
Perhaps most remarkable, major utilities are joining together in a pledge to phase out fracking by 2020. At a special meeting of the board of Colorado’s largest utility, resolutions were adopted to sign onto the pledge and start new programs to reduce the need for natural gas for heating homes as well. They plan to create pilot programs that will explore many different solutions, from on-bill financing of home efficiency improvements to replacing fracked gas with methanol from hemp and heating homes with solar energy.
“The health hazards to communities near fracking operations are simply too serious,” said the president of the board of directors. “We plan to help these communities transition by replacing fracking operations with solar farms that will create jobs.”
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