Xcel Energy’s $2.5B Clean Power Plan Gets the Green Light

Colorado's main energy provider intends to replace two aging and high-emitting coal units in Pueblo with renewable sources including wind and solar.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission has approved a plan by Xcel Energy to reduce air pollution and create a clean energy future for the state, while also saving customers and ratepayers money. Xcel Energy, the state’s main electricity provider, proposed to replace two old, dirty coal units with renewable energy.

These two aging and high-emitting coal units are located in Pueblo, Colo.; retiring them is set to sharply reduce dangerous emissions—including mercury and pollution causing smog and soot. Furthermore, the plan is expected to lead to a 60 percent reduction in the carbon pollution that causes climate change.

Xcel Energy will invest $2.5 billion in clean energy for Pueblo and rural Colorado, including investments in new wind and solar energy, battery storage and transmission upgrades. In addition, the plan will also facilitate a major on-site solar power project that should help keep a major steel mill and its extensive manufacturing jobs in Pueblo. Specifically, the energy company plans to add to its grid by 2026 about 1,100 megawatts of wind power, 700 megawatts of solar power, 380 megawatts of existing natural gas generation, and 275 megawatts of large-scale battery storage.

The plan is anticipated to save Colorado customers $213 million, thanks to the declining costs of renewable energy and savings on maintenance for the two retiring coal units. Moreover, a study led by the University of Colorado and commissioned by Xcel Energy found that the plan would add 549 jobs statewide and 133 jobs in Pueblo County.