Xcel Energy Wants to Explore Replacing Comanche Coal with Clean Energy

Xcel Energy and a diverse group of businesses, consumers, and electricity developers filed a proposal with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to explore replacing electric capacity from two aged coal-fired units at Pueblo’s Comanche Generating Station with cleaner, more cost-effective alternatives. The costs of wind and solar have dropped steadily in recent years and, coupled with existing bipartisan federal tax credits, Xcel recognizes the opportunity to meet growing customer demand for power that doesn’t pollute Colorado’s air and water or contribute to climate change. With PUC approval, Xcel will solicit competitive bids to determine whether replacing coal-fired generation with renewable energy is the most cost-effective path forward.

Zach Pierce, Senior Campaign Representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, says, “Renewable energy is leading the way in the transition away from coal to cleaner, more cost-effective electricity generation. It’s a promising development to see Xcel join a diverse group of stakeholders to explore taking advantage of low cost, clean energy. We look forward to engaging in an open and collaborative process to modernize our electric sector in a way that benefits local economies, improves public health, and conserves our environment.”

Although Comanche is located in Pueblo, CO, most of the electricity generated at the plant powers other communities. Pueblo does, however, suffer the worst effects from the pollution that spews from the smokestacks on the southeast side of town.

Local resident and active member of the Sierra Club, David Cockrell, says, “We have dreamed about the prospect of closing Comanche I and II for years, both for the reductions in CO2 emissions and for the local clean air benefits. But there are still many unanswered questions about the current proposal we have to look at concerning the mix of renewables to replace the coal plants, where they will be built, and what impacts the changes will have on local jobs and workers, and on local tax revenues. We are cautiously optimistic.”

In the event of plant closure, Xcel has signaled their intention to help impacted employees transition. Securing local economic development opportunities will be key to this proposal’s success.

Demand for renewable energy is growing throughout Colorado. The cities of Pueblo, Aspen, and Boulder have all declared their commitment to meet 100% of their electricity needs with the low cost clean energy sources that already employ more Coloradans than coal and gas combined.

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