An agreement announced Tuesday will see the coal-fired power plant with longstanding mechanical and operational problems shut down quickly, ending Xcel Energy’s use of coal in Colorado by early 2031.
The agreement is between Xcel Energy-Colorado and several local governments, business, labor and environmental organizations.
The closing date of the Comanche 3 plant in Pueblo was a point of contention as state regulators consider Xcel Energy’s proposed energy processing plan. The company had originally proposed closing the long-distressed plant by 2040 and again by December 31, 2034.
But several parties involved in proceedings before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission said it was not soon enough. Two members of the commission recently expressed concerns about how long Xcel Energy will keep the plant running.
Last week, the PUC adjourned the hearing on the utility resource plan to give the parties time to work out an agreement. Bob Frenzel, president and CEO of Xcel Energy, called the agreement a “historic milestone” for the company.
Xcel Energy said in a statement that if regulators approve the resource plan, it would meet more than 80% of its customers’ energy needs from renewable sources by 2030 and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels at a minimum. Will cut 85%.
The revised settlement agreement also addresses concerns that Xcel Energy could build new natural gas plants that would outlast their utility as do coal plants that critics say. The company will modify the modeling used to plan new energy sources.
“If approved, this agreement secures the next phase of Colorado’s energy transition, ensuring a commitment from Xcel to reduce harmful fossil-fuel emissions that contribute to climate change,” Western Resource Advocates said. , said Gwen Farnsworth, a Boulder managing senior policy advisor. based environmental group.
Xcel Energy submits an electric resource plan to the regulators every four years. It projects the amount of electricity the utility will need and the sources it will use.
The agreement covers Xcel Energy’s plan to help employees and make changes after coal plant closures by providing support to the pueblo community. The company said Pueblo County would receive 10 years of property tax payments to compensate for Comanche 3’s prior retirement.
Colorado lawmakers have set goals to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and increase the use of renewable energy to address the effects of climate change and improve air quality. The police administration aims to get all electricity on the state’s grid from renewable sources by 2040.
Xcel Energy plans to resume operations in Comanche 3 in 2025. Units 1 and 2 are planned to be closed by 2025.
Critics of keeping Unit 3 open have pointed to its long history of equipment and operation problems, and have argued that it should be closed as soon as possible due to economic, reliability and environmental concerns. A PUC report in 2021 said the unit had an average of 91.5 days per year outages over a decade and was out of commission for only a few days in 2020.
The company informed the PUC on 6 February that it was disassembling the generators at Comanche 3 following the damage incident. Xcel Energy said it expects repairs to be completed at the end of April.