Leslie Glustrom: Xcel–Not so great news last week

Letter to the Editor, published in the Boulder Daily Camera, March 9, 2022

Link to the original article 

This has been an intense couple of weeks on many fronts, eh?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its 6th Assessment Report on climate impacts reminding us how serious climate change already is and how much worse it is going to get — but of course we have already had a taste of that as over 1,000 of our friends’ homes were incinerated in the Marshall Fire.

The same day, last  Monday, the PUC received a letter from Xcel describing the outage at Xcel’s big 750 MW Unit 3 coal plant in Pueblo, which is typically Colorado’s largest single emitter of carbon dioxide and which has (again…) been out of service since Jan. 28, 2022 due to generator damage.

The good news is that Xcel doesn’t expect any reliability issues from the coal plant being out of service. The bad news is that Xcel is fixing the generator so they can bring the coal plant back online.

Wait — Who in their right mind would fix a generator for a coal plant that isn’t needed for reliability so that we can add fuel to the climate chaos that is descending all around us?

Well, Xcel would because they receive significant profits as long as they can keep the Pueblo Unit 3 coal plant limping along.

Totaling non-fuel expenses, Xcel’s customers are paying over $100 million a year to keep the coal plant generating profits for Xcel whether it works or not. Such a deal — for Xcel that is!

Then add many tens of millions of dollars more a year in coal costs that we pay so Xcel can profit — and so we can help accelerate climate change — Woo Hoo!

Speaking of profits, also this week, Xcel posted the 2021 10-K financial report for “PSCo,” Xcel’s Colorado subsidiary. I literally almost fell off my chair when I saw that PSCo’s 2021 after-tax profits had soared to $660 million from their already fat after-tax profits of $588 million in 2020.

So, there you go. That’s our “partner” Xcel — profiting from coal plants at our expense. Have a good day thinking about that!

Leslie Glustrom