Colorado approves coal swap-out for renewables

The state will shut down 660MW of fossil fuel-fired power ahead of schedule

The State of Colorado has approved the early closure of 660MW of coal-fired generation, which will be replaced by renewables and battery storage technologies.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted unanimously to allow for the early closure of two coal-fired units at Xcel Energy’s Comanche power station, which represents approximately one-third of the region’s remaining coal fleet.

The coal units will be replaced with a $2.5 billion (£1.9bn) investment in renewables and battery storage, including 1.1GW of wind, 707MW of solar and 275MW of battery storage across the state.

The transition is estimated to save ratepayers between $213 million (£164m) and $374 million (£288m).

By 2026, Colorado’s energy mix is expected to be made up of 55% renewable energy, up from 28% in 2017.

Coal made up 44% of Colorado’s electrical generation last year, which would decrease to about 24% under the plan.

By the same year, the utility estimates its carbon emissions will be approximately 60% lower than in 2005.

Xcel Energy CEO Ben Fowke said: “We can have a future reliable, cheap, resilient grid that is 100% powered by clean energy.

“I will tell you, it’s not a matter of if we’re going to retire our coal fleet in this nation, it’s just a matter of when.”

The Colorado PUC must now formalise its support in a written decision by the 4th September.

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