Xcel may shutter two Colo. coal units early
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.
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.