NewsCovering Colorado


Pueblo County power plant settlement outlines plans for economy's future

Comanche Three was originally built to last until 2070
Posted at 6:48 PM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-24 20:48:21-04

PUEBLO COUNTY — The Pueblo Board of County Commissioners announced the final settlement in the closure of the Pueblo-based Comanche 3 coal-fired power plant.

Last year, Xcel Energy agreed to close down Comanche 3 in 2031, nine years earlier than originally planned. The plant brings in about $30 million annually for the county through property tax revenue, prompting discussion on how to keep the county's economy running once the plant is closed.

In the settlement, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission agreed to pay the county community assistance payments in the same amount of property tax lost for 10 years after the plant's closure. That tax revenue pays for 70% of the county's 1A capital investment projects which were approved by voters in 2016, including the Pueblo Riverwalk extension.

The settlement offers an incentive for Xcel Energy to stay in the county, reducing property tax payments if the company invests in a new renewable energy plant in the area.

"This is a historic settlement that places Colorado as a leader in the efforts to save our planet and climate change. It provides deep carbon emission cuts and closes the last coal plant in the state of Colorado," said Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz.

Xcel Energy said it plans to retrain and transfer employees of the plant to different jobs in the company.

Dr. Velma Campbell is a Pueblo resident and has been a climate activist for the past 40 years. She said the future for the county's renewable energy scene is bright.

"We've been widely recognized as a part of the United States that has the solar resources. We have free energy generation going on in the sky, right above us, and lots of open space for solar panel development," she said.

The closure of Comanche 3 ends Xcel Energy's use of coal in Colorado. The company has already invested in solar energy in the county as a replacement for when Comanche 1 and 2 close in 2025.

"We have two solar farms that are being built here in Pueblo to provide that generation and solar farms with battery storage to take the places of unit one and two," said Ashley Valdez, area manager of community and local affairs for Xcel Energy.

The company has not outlined plans for what renewable energy source would take the place of Comanche 3, but Valdez said wind and solar energy are big contenders.

Pueblo County hopes to achieve 100% renewable energy power by 2035, according to its 2020 Community Energy Plan.

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