Colorado’ s largest utility, Xcel Energy is shutting down 900 MW of coal plants and replacing them with natural gas power plants. This move by just one utility will reduce the entire Colorado coal power fleet by a staggering 30%. What prompted this rather dazzling move?
The Colorado Clean Air – Clean Jobs Act just passed. Badda bing.
All new (or re-powered) electric power plants may not emit more than 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, effectively ruling out coal burning (without CCS).
All utilities in the state must find a way to achieve the goal. They can replace or re-power coal plants with natural gas or add energy efficiency measures such as combined heat & power, or they can switch to renewable energy sources.
The utilities don’t have much time to dither or lobby to argue the law. Their proposals have just nine months to be approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission by December and they must be up and running in six years by 2017.
Xcel is Colorado’s largest utility, with more than 1.1 million residential customers. Natural gas is the easy way out, since the state has the third-largest reserves of natural gas. Although natural gas is a fossil fuel that potentially harms drinking water, its contribution to climate change is only half that of coal.
Just how this sensible Colorado legislation got its bipartisan support needs study and emulation at the Federal level for the nation’s good.
Or did the devastation wrought on Colorado forest by the Pine Bark Beetle help state Republicans see our shared sad reality of fossil-fueled climate change where congressional Republicans won’t?
Images: Pine Bark Beetle killed forest
Source: Climate Progress