Xcel’s Colorado subsidiary outlines recent changes in its power mix

The Public Service Co. of Colorado unit of Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) on Oct. 30 filed an updated Electric Resource Plan with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that outlined a possible need for new generating capacity around 2019.

This plan was first lodged with the commission in 2011, then updated each year.

The company said its total summer Net Dependable Capacity (NDC) is projected to decrease by about 650 MW over the time period from 2016 to 2025. Company-owned generation results in a net decrease of 16 MW over the same time period, with the incremental additional NDC estimated from the turbine upgrades at the Cabin Creek pumped hydro facility being offset by the retirement of Zuni 2 and the Ponnequin wind facility (50 MW and 3 MW respectively). Approximately 380 MW of incremental NDC from new purchased generation is offset by the expiration of about 1,000 MW from existing contracts.

The first projected need for incremental resources is 176 MW in 2019 growing to about 1,000 MW by 2025. Expiring purchased power agreements (PPAs) totaling approximately 650 MW of net dependable capacity after 2018 represent 66% of the incremental resource need in 2025, with forecasted annual growth in net peak demand representing 34% of the incremental resource need.

For the period 2019-2025, the company currently has about 2,360 MW of wind capacity under contract.

In two decisions, the commission approved the company’s preferred portfolio of incremental generation resources identified in the 2013 All-Source Solicitation. These resources and the current status of their procurement are:

  • 18-year PPA for the existing 242 MW Fountain Valley gas-fired facility. The company successfully executed a PPA for the Fountain Valley facility and purchases under the contract began on Jan. 1, 2014;
  • Eight-year PPA for the existing 78 MW Brush 1/3 gas-fired facility. The company executed a PPA for the Brush 1/3 facility and purchases under the contract will begin on May 1, 2017, following the termination of the existing PPA;
  • 25-year PPA for the new 200-MW Limon III wind facility. PSCo executed a PPA for the Limon III facility and purchases under the contract began on Oct. 2, 2014;
  • 25-year PPA for the new 250-MW Golden West wind facility. Purchases under this contract began on Oct. 12 of this year;
  • 25-year PPA for the new 120-MW Comanche PV Solar facility. Purchases under this deal are due to begin in the second quarter of 2016;
  • 20-year PPA for the new 50-MW Hooper PV Solar facility. Purchases under this contract are expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2016;
  • Continued operation of the company’s 352-MW Cherokee Unit 4, a coal unit, on natural gas beginning no later than Jan. 1, 2018; and
  • Early retirement of the company’s coal-fired 45-MW Arapahoe 3 and 109-MW Arapahoe 4 units. Arapahoe 3 and 4 were retired on Dec. 20, 2013.

In addition to generation changes resulting from the 2011 ERP, the company’s Cherokee Units 5, 6, 7 (a 2×1 natural-gas fired, combined cycle facility) entered service on Aug. 20 of this year. Cherokee Unit 3, a 152-MW coal-fired unit, was retired from service on Aug. 20.

The Oct. 30 update touched on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recently-final Clean Power Plan, calling for 32% greenhouse gas reductions from existing power plants by 2030. But the utility said it won’t know much about how it will comply with this rule until the state of Colorado writes an implementation plan that covers how the state plans to comply with it.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.