In late August 2017, Xcel-Colorado (Public Service Company of Colorado or “PSCo”) submitted a plan to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) which it named the Colorado Energy Plan or “CEP.” The Colorado Energy Plan was submitted to the PUC as a “Stipulation” in Docket 16A-0396E and the CEP is sometimes referred to as “The Stipulation.” While Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan includes moving up the retirement date for two coal plants—Comanche 1 and 2 in Pueblo, Colorado—the Plan also contains a number of adverse provisions including:
Reducing Xcel’s Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment which is supposed to be used to support renewable energy additions and using the “head room” created by that reduction to pay off the undepreciated portion of Comanche 1 and 2.
Paying Xcel their full level of profit (known as “return at the WACC” or Weighted Average Cost of Capital of about 7 %) on the now stranded coal plants.
Establishing ownership targets for Xcel ownership of replacement generation, potentially reducing the competitive nature of Colorado’s energy market.
Including natural gas in the replacement generation and potentially constraining the analysis of the over 50,000 MW of very cost-effective wind, solar and storage bids that Xcel received in November 2018. The CEP would consider adding about 2000 MW of wind and solar to Xcel’s Colorado system, leaving over 90% of the wind, solar and storage bids “on the table.”
In addition, Clean Energy Action hosted several trainings on the CEP/Stipulation in late January 2018 and numerous citizens that attended the trainings testified at the Colorado PUC on February 1, 2018 in Docket 16A-0396E. Many citizens pointed out that Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan “deal” was not as good a “deal” as Xcel wanted the Commission to believe it was.
On Wednesday March 14, 2018 the Colorado PUC allowed Xcel to bring forth a plan that retires Comanche 1 and 2 early, but did not accept many other parts of the Colorado Energy Plan “Stipulation.” The decision is here.
Unfortunately the Colorado PUC did not specify that Xcel should develop a plan that no longer uses “must-run” requirements for Xcel’s Colorado coal plants, but it did require a “least-cost” modeling run which should begin to show the vast potential for lowering utility costs by incorporating low-cost wind, solar and storage onto Xcel’s Colorado system. Importantly, the sensitivity runs with lower discount rates should show even greater savings from adding wind, solar and storage resources. The modeling report is expected in late April 2018.
The mission of Clean Energy Action is to “accelerate the transition to the post-fossil fuel world,” and we are strong supporters of retiring coal and natural gas plants, but we will also advocate for a “just transition” that does not unduly burden utility ratepayers. The Colorado Energy Plan, while containing some admirable proposals, transfers too much accountability for stranded fossil fuel assets from Xcel to its customers.
Leslie Glustromis a co-founder and board member of Clean Energy Action based here in Boulder, and has more than a decade of experience with Xcel Energy and Colorado’s energy regulatory environment. She will be discussing the current situation we are facing here in Colorado in 2018.
Jacqui Patterson is the Director of the NAACP’s Environment and Climate Justice program. She has worked with the U.S. Climate Action Network, Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, and many other organizations on climate, gender, and racial justice, and will be discussing climate justice and equity.
Mariel Nanasi is the Executive Director of New Energy Economy in New Mexico. Her organization, New Energy Economy, recently faced a battle over stranded assets strikingly similar to the fight currently confronting Xcel ratepayers in Colorado. She will be telling us about her organization’s recent successes in bringing equity to stranded asset decisions.
Clean Energy Action is dedicated to taking coal and other fossil fuel assets offline as quickly as possible in a fashion that is just, equitable, and will encourage more responsible behavior by Xcel and other utilities in the future. The legal challenges posed by stranded assets are nuanced and important to understand if we want to move forward to a clean energy future responsibly and equitably, which is why we are thrilled that Ms. Patterson and Ms. Nanasi will be joining us for an evening right here in Boulder to offer their expertise.
Our discussion is open to the public, so join us for what promises to be a fascinating evening, and bring a friend!
On Tuesday, May 8th, at 3:00 pm the Boulder County Commissioners will be meeting to hear an update from Xcel Energy about the utility’s plans for the cessation of coal activities at the Valmont Power Station in east Boulder County.
Of particular concern for Boulder County residents is the fate of the coal ash produced by the Valmont plant and the serious threats that ash poses to water quality and public health in the region.
This meeting is open to the public but there will not be a public comment period at the meeting. If you want to submit a comment to the Commissioners or a question you would like them to ask Xcel on May 8th, we encourage you to submit your question or comment to the Commissioners before the deadline on April 30th.
Clean Energy Action will be hosting Nancy LaPlaca, a coal ash expert and a veteran of the fight against coal in Colorado, for an informational session to discuss the issues at George Reynolds Library the night before the meeting. For more information on the state of Colorado’s coal ash and the risks it poses to the public, check out Clean Water Fund’s full report and join us as we confront the legacy of coal-burning in Boulder County!
In late February 2018, Xcel and Denver signed a Memorandum of Understanding, or “MOU” that was touted as a way for Denver to work towards its goal of a 100% renewable energy. Clean Energy Action took a close look at the MOU and found that the substance did not match the hype. A summary of that analysis is below and the full analysis is attached.
A key goal of the analysis is to help Denver advocates recognize the limits of the MOU so as to better advocate for a cleaner energy future and for advocates in other communities to begin to better understand what is happening when their City representatives are talking about signing an MOU with Xcel.
Summary of the Analysis of the Xcel-Denver MOU
The Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Denver and Xcel (Public Service Company of Colorado or PSCo) executed in late February 2018 is primarily a document of lofty statement, but is non-binding and contains no commitments from Xcel to reduce the carbon intensity of their electricity and move to a high level of renewable energy. Rather, the MOU could easily serve to distract the City of Denver and its residents from efforts to decarbonize their electricity and even could be used by Xcel to entice the City of Denver into supporting Xcel’s proposals at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that are very likely not what most Denver residents and businesses would support if they understood them.
Dear Renewable Energy Advocates–We have an AMAZING opportunity to move clean energy forward in Colorado–but we need your help to “get it right.” Please come to a training below and then to the PUC hearing on Feb 1, 2018. (Docket 16A-0396E “Stipulation” hearing)
Here are the key dates so far:
Monday January 22, 2018–6 pm, Boulder Training
Meadows Public Library,
Boulder, Colorado (4800 Baseline, behind the Safeway)
The February 1, 2018 PUC hearing is a critical opportunity for the public to help shape the PUC’s response to the need to retire Xcel’s coal plants long before their expected retirement dates.
This hearing will be about moving the retirement of the Comanche 1 and 2 coal plants in Pueblo up about 10 years into the 2020s. This is, of course, a step in the right direction, but we need your help to make the PUC understand the following:
Move Faster on Coal Retirements: We are in a crisis on climate change. We can and must move faster by retiring these coal plants even earlier and working to retire the rest of Xcel’s coal fleet much sooner also.
Don’t Rush to Build More Natural Gas: Replacing coal plants with wind, solar, storage and demand side options makes good economic and environmental sense. This is not true for building new natural gas capacity which will likely just become stranded in its own time.
Don’t Make Xcel’s Customers Pay for All of Xcel’s Poorly Considered Expenditures on Coal: Xcel has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into their old coal plants in Colorado in this century–including into Comanche 1 and 2. Now Xcel wants us to pay for all of this–and pay them their return (think “profit,” at their Weighted Average Cost of Capital or WACC) on the ill-considered coal plant expenditures they have made in recent years. This isn’t a just or equitable solution for ratepayers. If we are to set a fair and equitable precedent for how we dig ourselves out of the very deep hole we’ve dug on coal in Colorado, it will be up to the informed citizens who testify on February 1, 2018 at the PUC to get it done!
Just come to a training and we’ll walk you through
the key parts and make sure your statement is on-point and powerful! In case you haven’t noticed, climate change impacts are already getting really serious. Please help us move Xcel further, faster on the clean energy path–and when we move Xcel, we move all of Colorado utilities and the entire US utility industry.
But….We can’t do it without YOU!
Accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy