Jun 11, 2021 - News

Most Colorado coal power plants less cost effective than wind, solar

Most Colorado coal plants are now uneconomic compared to wind and solar
Data: Energy Innovation; Map: Michelle McGhee/Axios

All but one of Colorado's seven coal power plants are less cost effective than wind and solar power, according to an analysis from environmental firm Energy Innovation.

Why it matters: If other power sources are cheaper, it means utility customers in Colorado are overpaying.

  • The emissions from coal power plants also contribute to climate change, and the state is well behind its goals for reductions.

The big picture: 72% of existing U.S. coal capacity and 80% of existing U.S. coal plants "are either more costly to continue operating compared to building new nearby wind or solar plants, or are slated to retire in the next four years," the report notes.

  • Two plants near Colorado Springs, the Martin Drake Power Plant and the Ray Nixon Power Plant, will close in 2023 and 2030, respectively.
  • Xcel Energy, the state's largest utility, is also committing to closing coal plants in the coming decade.

Be smart: Consumers will shoulder the burden for the costs of closing to meet emissions targets, which for Xcel totals an estimated $1.4 billion.

  • In addition, one reason renewable energy is cheaper is current federal tax credits.

The intrigue: The exception to cheaper renewable options is Xcel's Comanche 3 plant in Pueblo. And it's proving to be a sticking point in negotiations at the state Capitol regarding tougher climate change measures.

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