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[1:05 PM Update] November 1 PUC Hearing on HB 1365: PUC Rebuffs Peabody’s Request for Shortened Response; CDPHE Determination Not Expected till 5 PM

[N.B. The PUC quickly addressed the items I noted in this morning’s preview]

PUC Rebuffs Peabody’s Request for Shortened Response

As I noted this morning, Peabody Energy last Friday filed a motion to dismiss the proceeding. The coal company requested that the PUC require parties to respond to the motion by tomorrow (November 2), in order to expedite a final decision, but the PUC this morning set November 15 as the response deadline. Chairman Ron Binz promised to “do all I can to have a decision [on the motion] by the resumption of hearings” on November 18.

Three Plans Remain in Limbo

Also this morning, Chairman Binz indicated that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will wait until 5 PM to file its determination on whether Xcel’s two new fuel switching plans [Plan 6E FS and Plan 6.1E FS—see the “Crash Course” below] comply with all “reasonably foreseeable” air quality regulations. If the CDPHE finds that the plans do not meet reasonably foreseeable air quality regulations, they will be discarded.

Finally, Chairman Binz said that the PUC will not take up the admissibility of Plan 6.2 J [this is an accelerated version of its preferred plan—see “Crash Course” below] until the PUC receives the CDPHE’s determination on the two fuel switching plans. Last week, the PUC agreed to “tentatively” consider Plan 6.2 J, even though the PUC Staff said that it wouldn’t have enough time to review the plan, and therefore recommended that it be removed from consideration.

The upshot is that the admissibility of three of the utility’s four new implementation plans [see “Crash Course” below] are still in limbo, although final determinations are due tomorrow.

Crash Course on Xcel’s New HB 1365 Implementation Plans

Xcel last week proposed four alternative plans to comply with HB 1365, after its original plan was vacated by the PUC on October 21. The four alternative plans are similar. They all call for the retirement of four coal plants and top-of the line pollution controls for three others. A primary difference among them is their respective treatment of the 351 megawatt Cherokee 4 coal fired power plant located in northwest Denver. In particular,

  • Plan 5B would install top of the line nitrogen oxide controls at Cherokee 4 by 2017
  • Plan 6.2J would replace Cherokee 4 with new gas generation by 2017
  • Plan 6E FS would fuel switch at Cherokee 4 by 2017, and then replace it with a new gas plant by 2018
  • Plan 6.1E FS would fuel switch at Cherokee 4 by 2017, and then replace it with a new gas plant by 2022.