IREA questions Xcel’s preferred energy plan

IREA recently voiced to the state’s utility regulatory authority
our preference for one of several energy portfolios
proposed by our wholesale power provider.
IREA’s July 23 filing with Colorado’s Public Utilities Commission
(PUC) argues that the preferred portfolio presented
by Public Service Company of Colorado – more commonly
known as Xcel Energy – is deeply flawed and ultimately
could cost ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Xcel believes its Preferred Colorado Energy Plan Portfolio
(CEPP) would eventually save Colorado ratepayers, including
IREA customers, nearly $215 million while also introducing
1,100 megawatts of wind generation, 700 megawatts
of solar generation, and 275 megawatts of battery storage to
its system.
Flaws and biases in Xcel’s modeling of the Preferred CEPP,
however, make the plan’s cost savings projections illusory
and unreliable. At issue is the retirement of two of Xcel’s
coal-fired generation stations in Pueblo. Though Comanche
Units 1 and 2 currently are scheduled for retirement in 2033
and 2035, respectively, the Preferred CEPP calls for both to
be retired a decade early in favor of renewable generation
sources.
Any potential savings modeled in the Preferred CEPP
would not be realized until after the as-scheduled retirement
of the Comanche units – no earlier than 2046 – if at all. Uncertainty
in such far-off projections, as well as tax issues and
other contingencies, place much of the risk on ratepayers.
Xcel’s energy portfolio is of particular importance to IREA
and our customers because we jointly own, with Xcel and
Holy Cross Energy, Comanche’s third generation unit and
we have a power purchase agreement with Xcel that provides
much of our purchased electricity from Xcel. Therefore,
the risks presented by the Preferred CEPP affect IREA’s
customers.
In our PUC filing, we urged the commission to instead
adopt Xcel’s Preferred Energy Resource Plan (ERP). This
alternate portfolio proposes the addition of 1,100 combined
megawatts of solar and wind generation, as well as 50 megawatts
of battery storage, but not the early retirement of either
Comanche Unit 1 or 2. Modeling of the Preferred ERP
shows that it bests the Preferred CEPP by more than $200
million in potential savings.
Our PUC filing is part of IREA’s commitment to representing
the interests of our customers and providing reliable
service at low rates. @ColoSenGOP @AmyOliverShow

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By Ray Scott

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