Rumor has it that Colorado’s largest monopoly utility Xcel Energy is about to renege on a 2004 settlement that cost ratepayers dearly. And, Xcel will do it with the Governor John Hickenlooper’s blessing. Why? Because they don’t want to change their Electric Resource Plan (ERP) as I (and likely others) have suggested they should do following the 2016 presidential election and change in the federal political landscape that came with a Donald Trump victory.
According to two sources, here’s what you need to know:
- In 2004, Xcel entered into a settlement with various anti-energy leftist groups that required Xcel to spend tens of millions of dollars retrofitting coal-fired generators Comanche 1 and 2 in Pueblo.
- In exchange for that expenditure, Xcel was allowed to build Comanche 3 and the enviro groups agreed not to sue.
- That cost of retrofitting 1 and 2 and the building of 3 was passed along to Xcel ratepayers.
- In 2010, Xcel estimated that both Comanche 1 and 2 had more than 20 years left in their operational life cycle. “In their January 19, 2010 submittal PSCo indicated that the remaining useful life of Comanche Units 1 and 2 are each in excess of 20 years”
- The new settlement will prematurely close Comanche 1 and 2 (which ratepayers paid to have retrofitted) and will allow Xcel to replace it with something else, likely industrial wind.
- The Governor’s office doesn’t want the public to know that it has been lobbying what are supposed to be independent and neutral regulators to agree to the settlement.
- The Governor’s office has been lobbying the Department of Regulatory Affairs to pressure the Office of Consumer Counsel and the Public Utilities Commission to agree to this NEW settlement.
- Xcel will make a fortune off of this.
We’ve seen this kind of backroom deal making before with the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act. They love to claim that stakeholders came together. Plain and simple, that’s bullsh*t. Ratepayers are ALWAYS left out. Don’t think for a moment that the PUC or the OCC looks out for ratepayers either, we all know that is bullsh*t too. How else do you explain skyrocketing rates and profits and declining or flat demand and fuel costs? This is a form of taxation on low income Coloradans.
The real question now is, will the Colorado legislature have the political will and intestinal fortitude to stop this power grab. Who will be the voice of ratepayers?
This is one case where I hope I’m wrong.