Xcel Energy-Colorado’s $15B resource plan called “transformational,” but “jarring” for cost

Xcel Energy’s $15 billion transformation plan for Colorado faces scrutiny from Public Utilities Commission

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission is raising concerns about Xcel Energy’s proposed plan to invest $15 billion in expanding renewable energy sources and reducing carbon emissions. The plan, which aims to add 6,500 megawatts of wind and solar power and storage to Xcel’s system while cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 87% from 2005 levels by 2030, has been described as “transformational” by commission members.

However, the PUC is hesitating to approve nearly $3 billion in additional transmission costs, particularly the $2.8 billion earmarked for upgrades in the Denver area. The commission is wary of the significant increase in costs compared to the original phase of the proposal.

The PUC is concerned that the higher transmission costs could lead to large rate increases for Xcel Energy’s 1.6 million customers in Colorado. The Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate is also questioning Xcel’s claim that the Power Pathway, a series of high-voltage transmission lines, is sufficient to address the company’s transmission needs, especially given the additional billions of dollars required for other transmission upgrades.

Additionally, the PUC expressed doubt about Xcel’s projection that the plan would only result in an average annual rate increase of 2.3% for customers, and has pointed out potential costs that the forecast does not include, such as wildfire mitigation, electrification of transportation, distributed solar projects, and development of hydrogen Technology.

In addition to the concerns about transmission costs and rate increases, the PUC is also questioning Xcel’s plan to build three new natural gas plants, which would cost ratepayers $1 billion and potentially become obsolete as the Technology is phased out over the next 25 years.

Xcel Energy’s proposed plan has been met with mixed reactions from various stakeholders, with community and environmental groups expressing worry about the impacts on air quality, Health, and the environment, while also acknowledging the importance of renewable energy and energy storage.

This scrutiny by the PUC comes at a time when there is increasing pressure on utilities to prioritize clean energy and reduce carbon emissions. The debate over Xcel Energy’s plan reflects the larger national and global conversation about the transition away from fossil fuels and the challenges and controversies that come with such a significant shift in energy production and infrastructure.

The decision on Xcel Energy’s proposed plan is expected to be an impactful one, with potential implications for the future of energy in Colorado and beyond. The PUC will continue to deliberate on the proposal in the coming weeks, taking into account the various concerns and considerations raised by stakeholders.

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