Colorado Utility Announces Major Move on Clean Energy, Climate Action

This week Colorado’s biggest utility, Xcel Energy, filed a plan to accelerate by a decade the closure of two coal units at its Comanche plant near Pueblo, CO, and to replace that power with the biggest package of clean energy ever proposed in the U.S. for an individual coal retirement. To top it all off, the proposal would save customers more than $200 million versus running the coal plant. How’s that for some great news before your weekend?

While the Trump administration tries to bend the law to keep dirty coal plants from being replaced with clean energy, utilities like Xcel are moving ahead to meet public demand for renewables and save money by dumping expensive coal. This Xcel announcement shows in dollars and cents that the future of electricity is clean energy. When Xcel requested proposals for replacement power, the company received bids for renewable energy with storage that beat out the cost of new gas plants. Despite Trump’s attacks on clean energy, the foundations are being washed out from under coal plants through smart advocacy, mobilized people, and transforming economics.  

I’m so proud of and inspired by the years of work by tireless Coloradans committed to moving the state Beyond Coal and onto the pathway to 100% clean energy. I’m thankful for our partners at Conservation Colorado and Western Resource Advocates for helping Xcel get this plan moving, along with our amazing Sierra Club staff, volunteers, and the so many other coalition members from diverse backgrounds who were involved the whole time.

Sierra Club activists worked with the state public utilities commission (PUC) to help Xcel and the state see that more fracked gas was not the way to move beyond coal. Our Ready For 100 team and Pueblo’s Energy Future are working hard to make Pueblo the state’s clean energy capital. We are all working together to ensure this plan provides a fair transition for the area.

Here’s the Xcel plan by the numbers:

  • Construct 1,131 megawatts (MW) of new wind power, 707 MW of new solar power, and 275 MW of new battery storage.

  • Accelerate retirement of 660 MW of its coal-fleet (about one-third of its Colorado fleet).

  • Include purchase of 383 MW of existing gas plants, but no new gas construction.

  • Increase its share of renewable energy in Colorado from about 29 percent to more than 50 percent by 2026

  • Reduce its carbon emissions by 59 percent as compared to a 2005 baseline.

  • Result in at least $213 million in savings as compared to continued operation of all Comanche coal units.

While the plan is still up for review by the state PUC, we will continue to collaborate with our partners and with Xcel to defend and improve its groundbreaking clean energy plan. Together we know that clean energy will create jobs and strengthen local economies -- all without the massive climate, air, and water pollution that coal causes.

Clean energy is winning nationwide. Together we will move beyond coal. Join us.

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