Xcel Energy aspires to produce zero-carbon electricity by 2050
Xcel Energy announced in Denver on Tuesday, Dec. 4, that it intends to deliver 100-percent carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050.
As part of this vision, the company also announced plans to reduce carbon emissions 80-percent from 2005 levels by 2030 in the eight states it serves.
“This is an extraordinary time to work in the energy industry, as we’re providing customers more low-cost, clean energy than we could have imagined a decade ago,” said Ben Fowke, chairman, president and CEO, Xcel Energy, in a news release. “We’re accelerating our carbon reduction goals, because we’re encouraged by advances in technology, motivated by customers who are asking for it, and committed to working with partners to make it happen.”
Xcel is based in Minneapolis and provides electricity to about 1.5 million customers in Colorado. Xcel’s plans were approved by the Public Utilities Commission in September.
Xcel intends to buy gas plants, develop additional wind and solar farms, and develop battery storage facilities, the Associated Press reported in June.
“… Achieving the long-term vision of zero-carbon electricity requires technologies that are not cost effective or commercially available today. That is why Xcel Energy is committed to ongoing work to develop advanced technologies, while putting the necessary policies in place to achieve this transition,” according to the news release.
It also means the closure of two coal-fired units and the elimination of about 80 jobs at Xcel’s Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo, Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz told the Associated Press in June.
Most of the electricity in the Yampa Valley is supplied by Yampa Valley Electric Association, which purchases power from the Western Area Power Administration — a federal power marketing agency — and Xcel Energy.
It’s uncertain what, if any, impact Xcel’s decision might have on YVEA and anyone who purchases power through membership in the electric association.
The decision does not, however, impact coal or electricity production in Moffat County by TriState Generation & Transmission. Electricity produced in Moffat County is offered for sale to customers elsewhere in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and New Mexico.
Even so, TriState is experiencing economic and public pressure for its coal operations.
A study by Rocky Mountain Institute released in August found “renewable costs are falling quickly, and legacy asset costs are relatively high.”
The report used “publicly available data to examine the cost-savings opportunities available to Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association (Tri-State) and its member electric cooperatives through scaled procurement of cost-effective renewable energy projects while maintaining system reliability requirements.”
The study projected Tri-State members could save $600 million through 2030 on a net present value basis and minimize the risk of rate increases associated with continued reliance on legacy generating assets by 30 to 60 percent.
Tri-State refuted the analysis, but now faces member utilities in Delta-Montrose and La Plata County, which are on the hunt for more renewables, according to Colorado Public Radio.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission has filed a protest with federal regulators seeking to block the bid by the power provider for rural electric cooperatives to jump from state to federal oversight.