After years of coordinated advocacy and sustained organizing, Colorado’s Xcel Energy utility announced plans in June 2018 to implement the single largest national proposal to replace retiring coal power with renewable energy in American history. Xcel plans to accelerate retirement of one-third of its coal fleet, replace that with major new additions of wind, solar, and battery storage, and add no new gas-fired generation, bringing the utility’s portfolio to 55% renewable energy. In their request for proposals for this plan, Xcel received the lowest bids for wind and solar ever received by any U.S. utility, and this shift will save their customers an estimated $215 million. The utility is also investing in an economic transition pathway for the community that is home to the coal-fired power plants, largely due to advocacy from thousands of their customers sending comments and attending hearings to demand this change. The cities of Pueblo, Aspen, and Boulder have all declared their commitment to meet 100% of their electricity needs with the low-cost clean energy sources that already employ more Coloradans than coal and gas combined.
Xcel Energy is Moving Colorado Beyond Coal
Here’s the Xcel plan by the numbers:
- Construct 1,131 megawatts (MW) of new wind power, 707 MW of new solar power, and 275 MW of new battery storage.
- Accelerate retirement of 660 MW of its coal-fleet (about one-third of its Colorado fleet).
- Include purchase of 383 MW of existing gas plants, but no new gas construction.
- Increase its share of renewable energy in Colorado from about 29% to more than 50% by 2026.
- Reduce its carbon emissions by 59% as compared to a 2005 baseline.
- Result in at least $213 million in savings as compared to continued operation of all Comanche coal-fired generation units.
"Accelerating coal plant retirements and replacing that coal with clean energy is the biggest immediate opportunity we have in the U.S. to reduce climate pollution, and grassroots advocates are seizing that opportunity. Thanks to a decade of advocacy, we’ve already won retirement of over half the coal plants in the U.S., and this spring, coal power generation fell to an all-time low, while wind and solar reached an all-time high. In the U.S., decisions about how we produce electricity are made in states and cities, not in Washington, DC, and the Beyond Coal Campaign will continue to be there whenever and wherever those decisions are made. No matter who is in the White House, we will keep making progress toward moving America off of dirty coal and toward 100% clean energy."
Mary Anne Hitt,
Director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign