Input sought on Xcel Energy plan to use less coal

DENVER — Colorado regulators are taking public comments today in Denver on Xcel Energy’s plan to reduce emissions by converting some of its coal-fired power plants to run on natural gas.

A new state law required the utility to submit a plan to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for meeting foreseeable requirements of the federal Clean Air Act. The commission has until Dec. 15 to approve, deny or modify the plan.

The commission’s public comment meeting in Denver follows one last month in Grand Junction, where some residents expressed concern about how the switch would affect the state’s coal industry and western Colorado communities that rely on coal for tax revenue and jobs. Others were worried consumers would be hurt by volatile natural gas prices.

Environmental groups and miners both have rallies scheduled in downtown Denver before the meeting.

Xcel has estimated that costs of implementing its plan would be $1.3 billion over 12 years.

The utility has proposed closing a coal-fired plant in Boulder and another in Denver, then repowering the Denver plant into one that runs on natural gas. It also would switch another generation unit in Denver to natural gas and add more emission controls at two other coal-fired plants.

Overall, 903 megawatts of coal-fired generation would be retired.

Xcel has filed plans to start recovering costs of the plan from consumers starting Jan. 1.


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