Breakdowns, shutdowns and cost overruns plague Xcel’s Comanche 3 coal-fired power plant, investigation finds |

Breakdowns, shutdowns and cost overruns plague Xcel’s Comanche 3 coal-fired power plant, investigation finds

Electricity from the state-of-the-art coal-fired power plant near Pueblo costs 45% more than forecast, Colorado Public Utilities Commission reports. Xcel says Comanche will be used as a backup to renewable generation after 2030.

Mark Jaffe
Colorado Sun

Comanche 3, Xcel Energy’s state-of-the-art coal-fired power plant, has been plagued by operational, equipment and financial problems leading to more than 700 days of unplanned shutdowns since the plant went online in 2010, according to a report by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

The report by the PUC staff found that the cost of electricity from the plant — $66.25 for each megawatt-hour (MWh) – was 45% more than forecast and the annual operating costs were 44% higher than projected at $34.8 million a year.

The PUC undertook the assessment after two mechanical failures led to the unit being closed for all of 2020 and parts of 2021 – a total of 373 days.

“What we are doing is a bit of public and private review of the utility’s performance,” former PUC Chairman Jeffrey Ackermann said in approving the study in October.

“We are closely reviewing the Colorado Public Utilities Commission’s report on Comanche Unit 3 in Pueblo. Meanwhile, we are committed to the continued safe and reliable operation of the plant through its proposed early retirement in 2040,” Xcel said in a statement.

The utility — Colorado’s largest electricity provider with 1.5 million customers — said it continues to look for new ways to learn and improve the way it runs its generation fleet.

The first incident started on Jan. 13, 2020 when a loud noise and vibrations began to come from a low-pressure turbine. The plant was down until June 2 for repairs, costing $4.2 million, and inspections.

To read the rest of the Colorado Sun article, click here.

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