Xcel Energy gets regulator approval to boost renewable energy, cut coal

Xcel Colorado’s plan to increase its share of power from wind and solar sources and retire one-third of its coal generation was approved by state regulators on Monday.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission voted 2-1 to support the Colorado Energy Plan, reports the Denver Post, which the company said will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 60 percent and increase renewable energy to 55 percent of its mix by 2026. It’s also expected to save customers $213 million.

As part of the plan, Xcel said it will phase out its coal-fired Comanche 1 and 2 plants in Pueblo a decade earlier than the initial target date of 2035. It will invest $2.5 billion in eight counties and save customers about $213 million due to the declining costs of renewable energy.

Critics, however, say that customers will have to pay higher rates to cover the costs of closing the coal plants early. One of those critics was Commissioner Wendy Moser, who supported an alternate renewable energy plan. Moser noted that the closure of the coal plants will also cause workers to lose jobs, although Xcel said they will try to find jobs for the displaced workers.

The commission is expected to issue a written decision approving the plan in the first week of September.