Clean Energy Action’s Position
CEA is dedicated to accelerating the transition to the post-fossil fuel world. It is our goal to help our country re-power and eliminate or minimize the use of all fossil fuels–coal, natural gas, and petroleum. We were not involved in the negotiation of what became known as the “Clean Air Clean Jobs Act” or CACJA. Whenever possible, fossil fuel generation should be replaced with clean energy alternatives–efficiency, demand response, and renewable generation. The definition below is taken from the Governor’s Energy Office.
- Mandates the decommission of 900 megawatts of coal-based power generation from Xcel’s Colorado system
- An effort by Colorado Legislature to preemptively meet the anticipated Federal Clean Air Act
- Emphasizes natural gas as a transition fuel
- Also known as HB 1365
“A broad coalition including power companies, natural gas producers and conservationists worked with the Colorado Governor’s Office and lawmakers to craft the Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, Colorado. The bill requires Xcel Energy to sharply reduce air pollutants by retiring, retrofitting or repowering northern Front Range coal-fired power plants by the end of 2017 and replace them with facilities fueled by natural gas and other low- or non-emitting energy sources, including increased energy efficiency measures.
Xcel Energy would work with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to submit plans by Aug. 15 to the state Public Utilities Commissions to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions at metro area coal plants by 70 percent to 80 percent by Dec. 31, 2017.”
Taken from the Governor’s Energy Office
Why it’s important
According to data received from Xcel in 2011, with the addition of Comanche’s Unit 3 a 750 MW coal plant (of which Xcel owns 2/3 share), Xcel’s reliance on coal goes from about 57% (before Unit 3) to about 68% (after Unit 3). With this increased coal burn, it became imperative for other coal plants to be transitioned in order to meet federal regional haze regulations. (1)
To comply with the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act, Xcel plans to close the Valmont coal plant by 2017; the Cherokee and Arapahoe coal plants are set to transition to natural gas by 2017. The Hayden and Pawnee coal plants are being considered for pollution controls which would keep the coal plants on-line until 2036 and 2041 respectively, and would cost close to $380 million. (2)
The federal Clean Air Act requires Colorado to submit a plan to address regional haze by early next year or the EPA will write its own plan for Colorado. The proposed Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act will allow investor-owned utilities like Xcel Energy to help craft their own plans for how to meet new regional haze guidelines, as well as new mandates for ozone, mercury and carbon dioxide in one comprehensive analysis that will minimize costs and maximize emissions reductions. (3) Also, it will create an economic development opportunity for Colorado’s homegrown resources such as natural gas, wind and solar.
The Valmont coal plant in Boulder, CO is set to close by 2017; with Cherokee and Arapahoe, both in Denver, CO, set to transition to natural gas by 2017.
In addition, Xcel included the proposal to add pollution controls to the Hayden coal plants (west of Steamboat Springs) and the Pawnee coal plant (in Brush, northeast of Denver.) The pollution controls would cost about $380 million and would extend the lives of the coal plants until 2025 and beyond.
“The details on the proposed Hayden/Pawnee 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). (4)
Xcel needs to know Colorado rate payers don’t want to spend more money on the Hayden and Pawnee coal plants when we have thousands of megawatts of clean wind and solar projects ready to go. More information on Xcel’s plan to spend $380 million on the Pawnee coal plant in Brush (NE of Denver) and the Hayden coal plant (W of Steamboat) can be found in this Denver Post article. If you’d rather have cleaner energy, please send a quick e-mail to email@example.com.