Xcel may shut­ter two Colo. coal units early

Albuquerque Journal - - BUSINESS - BY DAN EL­LIOTT AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

DEN­VER — Colorado’s largest elec­tri­cal util­ity said Tues­day it is con­sid­er­ing shut­ting down two coal-fired gen­er­at­ing units a decade ear­lier than planned and re­plac­ing them with power from a mix of wind, so­lar and nat­u­ral gas. Xcel En­ergy said the plan calls for clos­ing two older units at the Co­manche Gen­er­at­ing Sta­tion in Pue­blo — one in 2022 and one in 2025. A third, newer unit would keep op­er­at­ing.

Xcel said it would not put the plan in place un­less the over­all cost of elec­tric­ity is the same or less than cur­rent costs.

David Eves, pres­i­dent of Colorado op­er­a­tions for the Minneapolis-based util­ity, said he be­lieves the plan would save money, but he could not say how much.

“We think there’s a ma­te­rial sav­ings,” he said. “It will de­pend on the bids, whether it’s a lot cheaper or whether it’s marginally less ex­pen­sive.”

The Pue­blo plant would lose 80 to 90 jobs over eight years, some through at­tri­tion, Eves said. Xcel would work with other em­ploy­ees on new op­por­tu­ni­ties, he said.

Eves said the com­pany has never had lay­offs as a re­sult of switch­ing from coal to re­new­able en­ergy.

Tak­ing the two coal-fired units off­line is ex­pected to re­duce car­bon diox­ide pol­lu­tion by 4 mil­lion to 4.5 mil­lion tons a year, Eves said.

The plant now burns about 5 mil­lion tons of coal a year. If the two older units are re­tired, that would be cut in half, Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said. The newer unit is larger than the other two, he said.

Xcel also op­er­ates in east­ern New Mex­ico and West Texas, ag­gres­sively in­creas­ing its re­new­able port­fo­lio.

DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wind tur­bines op­er­ate at an Xcel wind farm in north­ern Colorado. The state’s largest elec­tri­cal util­ity is con­sid­er­ing shut­ting down two coal-fired units early.

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