Xcel to test solar generation at Cameo

Instead of burning coal to produce steam to create electricity, Xcel Energy’s Cameo Generating Station may one day use the burning sun to generate power.

Xcel said Wednesday its Cameo plant would be the company’s first trial location concentrating solar energy to produce steam for power generation. If the plan is approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, the $4.5 million project would begin this summer at the station east of Grand Junction.         

“If we are able to show this does work ... it affords us the opportunity to look at this on a larger scale down the road,” said Mark Stutz, spokesman for Xcel Energy, adding it comes at a low cost to Colorado customers.

The company is asking that $6 million be raised each year from 2010 to 2013 to support the Innovative Clean Technology program for testing clean energy technologies. For average residential customers that means a 14 cent monthly increase on the utility bill, and for small businesses, about 22 cents more each month, Xcel said.

The end goal would be fewer emissions, including a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, and lowered costs to customers, Stutz said. Other innovative technologies that could follow include new advanced solar, wind, biomass and energy-storage technologies, Xcel said.

The Cameo station serves about 5,500 customers, primarily through burning coal to produce electricity, Stutz said. The test at the 73-megawatt plant would be one megawatt, potentially serving hundreds of homes.

Tim Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company, said, “It would provide us with the experience and information we need to ensure that these technologies are able to meet our stringent standards for reliability, cost, safety and environmental protection, before we make commitments on larger investments.”

By LORY POUNDER
Special to The Daily Sentinel


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