Xcel Energy draws praise for aggressive pursuit of renewables


On Dec. 6, the Platte River Power Authority did one better than Xcel when its board of directors voted to set a goal for a 100-percent non-carbon resource mix by 2030.

All four of PRPA's owner municipalities support the zero-carbon goal. Those include the cities of Longmont, Fort Collins, Estes Park and Loveland.

“We applaud PRPA for hearing the voices of people from across Northern Colorado who are ready to be powered by 100 percent clean electricity. This statement of values from PRPA is encouraging as the utility starts its long term energy planning, and we will continue to voice our vision throughout that planning process for Northern Colorado to shift away from fossil fuels and embrace clean, renewable electricity,” Kevin Cross with the Fort Collins Sustainability Group said in a release.

————ORIGINAL POST: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 —————

Xcel Energy, which provides power to customers in eight states, including Colorado, announced on Dec. 4 a
Xcel Energy says the future is in the sun and wind. - SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com
  • Xcel Energy says the future is in the sun and wind.
commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050 from the baseline emissions of 2005.

The ambitious targets — Xcel is the first major interstate utility in the nation to set such lofty goals — immediately drew praise from conservationists, including a solar power entrepreneur whose business originated in Colorado Springs.

David Amster-Olszewski, founder and CEO of SunShare, now based in Denver, issued a statement calling Xcel's plan "a huge win for consumers, the solar industry, and the environment."

"We congratulate and commend our partners at Xcel for their bold vision," his statement said. "SunShare has helped build the community solar programs in Colorado and Minnesota, the nation's first and largest, both of which are part of Xcel’s service area."

David Amster-Olszewski calls Xcel's plan "a bold vision." - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • David Amster-Olszewski calls Xcel's plan "a bold vision."
Xcel serves 1.4 million electricity customers and 1.3 million natural gas customers in Colorado. Other states in which it provides power are Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

The move toward zero emissions exceeds goals set by the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan, which the Trump Administration has rejected, opting instead to promote coal.

Zach Pierce, the Sierra Club’s senior campaign representative for the Beyond Coal Campaign in Colorado, hailed Xcel's announcement as "good for business, job creation, our health and the environment."

He noted the company is replacing coal plants with solar, wind and battery storage, which ultimately will save customers millions of dollars on energy bills and bring investment to communities in Colorado.

As we reported last year, there's a strong movement toward renewables to save the planet, despite the current administration's aversion to clean energy.

Meantime, in Colorado Springs, city-owned Colorado Springs Utilities still relies on coal and natural gas for a good chunk of its power and hasn't targeted renewables with as much vigor as Xcel.

"In the next few years, we will be adding almost 250 megawatts of solar energy plus battery storage to our portfolio, bringing our carbon-free energy mix to more than 20 percent," Utilities' energy acquisition engineering and planning general manager John Romero said in a statement.

He noted the utility has launched an initiative to create a new "Energy Vision" for its customers that "incorporates the protection of our natural resources, supports clean energy and transportation, builds a more resilient system and empowers energy choice."

The new vision plan is in the making and seeks community input that will guide the city's 2020 Energy Integrated Resource Plan.

All that said, the Utilities Board, comprised of City Council, has decided to keep the downtown coal-fired Drake Power Plant churning until 2035, though some board members want to hasten its closure.

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