Xcel’s plans bring renewed economic impact to Pueblo
Originally Published on Chieftain.com, Read the Entire Article Here
“When Xcel Energy announced plans to partially close its coal-fired plant in Pueblo and increase its use of renewable energy, there were concerns about the economic impact the job losses here would have on the community. It turns out the overall economic impact may be positive if a new study is to be believed.
Xcel plans to scale back operations at the Comanche power plant, which will result in the loss of about 80 jobs. Representatives from the utility company have said they expect those job losses to be absorbed mostly through retirements and other attrition over the next several years.
Meanwhile, the company plans to build and operate new wind and solar farms around the state, including several solar farms in Pueblo. According to a study by the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, that work will create hundreds of construction jobs within our community over the next five years.
Specifically, Xcel wants to contract with private developers to build three solar farms and two power storage/battery units near the Comanche plant, as well as a power transfer station and other improvements.
When the construction work is complete, the number of jobs associated with Xcel’s increased emphasis on renewable energy will drop. There will be some full-time jobs maintaining the new energy facilities, but not as many as the coal-fired plant required.
Still, the university’s study said the switchover will benefit Pueblo in other ways, including an estimated $21.9 million in taxes paid to local governments over the next 23 years.
The study projects other parts of the state also will benefit from Xcel’s renewable energy projects, with an estimated 416 jobs a year if averaged out through 2040.
All of that is dependent on approval by the Public Utilities Commission, which could make a decision as early as September, following public hearings and regulatory review.
Black Hills Energy provides residential and commercial service to the Pueblo area and most of Xcel’s customers are in the Denver area. However, Xcel’s biggest retail customer in Colorado is the EVRAZ Pueblo steel mill.
Much of Xcel’s fortunes are tied to the decision EVRAZ makes about whether to expand the mill here or not. If EVRAZ stays, then Xcel should be in pretty good shape for the foreseeable future. If EVRAZ doesn’t expand its local operations, there’s a chance it eventually would transfer some or all of its Pueblo business to other facilities elsewhere around the country. Which, it seems safe to assume, would put a crimp on Xcel’s plans.
Xcel is taking a bold step by turning to renewable sources to meet more of its energy needs. It’s a gamble that we have to hope is successful, for the sake of Pueblo’s economic development.”
Pueblo’s Energy Future will be hosting a Clean Energy & Economic Growth Forum on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 from 5:30 to 7:30 at Rawlings Library in the Ryals Room (100 E Abriendo Ave, Pueblo, CO 81004) We will be discussing the economic impact of Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan to Pueblo. Join us and Learn More!
When: Tuesday, August 07, 2018, Pueblo’s Energy Future (PEF) will co-host this vital community conversation along with Beyond Coal, and League of Women Voters of Pueblo. It will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 PM, snacks, and beverages will be provided.
Where: It will take place in the Ryals Room of the Rawlings Library (100 E Abriendo Ave.) in Pueblo, CO.
Who: The Forum will consist of experts and professionals from the following organizations: Pueblo County Representative, Xcel Representative, Labor Representative, and Economic Professionals.
Why: This community conversation pertains to Xcel’s Economic Impact Analysis and 120-Day Report. The Economic Impact Analysis Report was filed by the Public Service Company of Colorado, June 20, 2018.
What is the Colorado Energy Plan?
Xcel Energy has an “Electric Resource Plan” currently pending before the Public Utilities Commission. An Electric Resource Plan is where the utility and the PUC make decisions about what generation resources the utility should acquire. As part of its Electric Resource Plan, Xcel is proposing the Colorado Energy Plan – a combination of existing plant retirements and new clean energy acquisitions. The PUC will decide in early September whether or not to approve the Colorado Energy Plan Portfolio.
On June 6, Xcel presented the Colorado Energy Plan to the Commission as a specific set of projects in its “120 Day Report.” More specifically, the Colorado Energy Plan would include:
- Retiring Comanche Unit 1 (360 MW) in 2023;
- Retiring Comanche Unit 2 (365 MW) in 2025;
- Purchasing 383 MW of existing gas plants;
- Constructing 707 MW of new solar;
- Constructing 1131 MW of new wind; and
- Constructing 275 MW of new battery storage
Under the Colorado Energy Plan, these projects will be located in Adams, Baca, Boulder, Kit Carson/Cheyenne, Morgan, Park, Pueblo, Weld Counties.
Under the proposed Portfolio, which the Commissioners will decide whether or not to approve, Xcel will own the existing gas plants and 27% of the new renewable generation. The remaining units will be developed by independent power producers and acquired through power purchase contracts. All of these energy resources will be located in Colorado.
It is now up to the Public Utilities Commission to decide whether to approve the Portfolio. Pueblo County Residents can impact the PUC decision but submitting their comments related to this docket number: 16A-0396A, by following the submittal process below, under action items.
We look forward to you joining us Tuesday, August 7, 2018. So please bring your friends, family, and neighbors. You can find links to the event below.
Pueblo’s Clean Energy & Economic Growth Forum Links