Kelly Flenniken the Area Manager for Xcel Energy, Colorado, answers our questions about the Colorado Energy Plan.
What is the Colorado Energy Plan?
The Colorado Energy Plan is Xcel Energy’s roadmap to develop a cleaner energy mix and reduce carbon emissions. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved the plan in August 2018.
The plan will invest $2.5 billion in eight counties, to add more than 1,100 megawatts of wind generation, more than 700 MW of large-scale solar, and 275 MW of battery storage. The Plan will also retire two coal-fired generation units in Pueblo, and acquire 375 MW of existing natural gas generation, to support reliability.
Best of all, we plan to do this while keeping customers’ bills low: we estimate that customers will save more than $200 million as a result of this plan.
How does the Colorado Energy Plan help reduce emissions?
Under the Colorado Energy Plan, by 2026, we will achieve nearly 55 percent renewable energy on our power grid. We will reduce carbon emissions in Colorado by about 60 percent from 2005 levels, and cut NO2 and Sox emissions by 90 percent.
Our carbon story is among the best in the country. It’s important to note that Xcel Energy is developing renewable energy for all our customers, not just the ones who are motivated by sustainability. We are already delivering more than 28 percent renewable energy to every customer in Colorado.
What are the resources Xcel Energy provides to support communities’ renewable and emission targets?
The Partners in Energy program puts Xcel Energy’s expertise in energy efficiency and resource planning to work with communities across Colorado. These two-year collaborations, offered free to any community in our service area, include forming a team of stakeholders, developing a six-month assessment and Energy Action Plan, and 18 months of implementation.
For example, Garfield County’s partnership includes six communities, public entities, clean energy advocates, bankers and contractors. Also participating were three other energy companies that serve the area: Black Hills Energy, Holy Cross Energy and Glenwood Springs Electric. Together they built a one-stop solution that offers energy assessments, rebate info and financing for any home or business in Garfield County.
Are there other programs that are relevant to municipalities taking action on climate change?
This year Xcel Energy launched a new program, Energy Future Collaborations, a flexible framework to advance communities’ energy needs and goals. The collaborations acknowledge that it is better for the company and communities to work together on the many areas upon which we agree, rather than being limited by things on which we disagree. Encouraging the CPUC to approve the Colorado Energy Plan is just one example.
After a nonbinding Memorandum of Understanding is executed, the parties develop a work plan that can include existing programs, new solutions, or potential public-private partnerships. So far eight communities have signed MOUs, starting with Breckenridge in January.
With Energy Future Collaborations, Xcel Energy can nurture relationships with community leaders and stakeholders, while they gain a better understanding of our business and regulatory environment. We hope to create transformative solutions while building a supportive statewide network of problem-solvers.