By Peter Roper, The Pueblo Chieftain
August 27, 2018
NOTE TO READERS – Yampa Valley Electric Association purchases power from the Western Area Power Administration (a federal power marketing agency) and Xcel Energy.

Xcel Energy’s plan to replace coal-fired units at its Comanche Station with a $2.5 billion investment in renewable energy was approved Monday by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

The commission won’t issue a formal written ruling until September but the three commissioners — Jeff Ackerman, Frances Koncilja and Wendy Moser — all approved Xcel’s request to decomission the two coal-fired units, which has been the most contentious part of Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan.

Moser disagreed on one major question, arguing that Xcel’s preferred plan, which Ackerman and Koncilja endorsed, relies too much on solar power and battery storage. Moser backed a scaled-down option that would have built less solar power and storage in Pueblo.

But Koncilja prevailed, arguing that adopting Xcel’s preferred option would be best for Pueblo. It calls for building 1,100 megawatts of wind power, 700 megawatts of solar power and 275 megawatts of battery storage.

“Last year, Pueblo announced its commitment to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy and now Pueblo County will be the home to the construction of three solar projects, two storage projects, and a new switching station, all of which will help support new jobs and economic opportunities,” he said.

Mary Anne Hitt, senior director of the club’s Beyond Coal campaign, said, “Despite the bluster coming from the Trump administration, America is rapidly moving away from dirty, expensive coal plants and toward cheaper, energy sources like solar and wind.”

The Xcel plan had many supporters but one opponent was the Independence Institute’s Coalition of Ratepayers. It argued the two coal-powered plants at Comanche that will be decommissioned are still efficient and cheap sources of power for ratepayers.