Colorado’s largest utility thinks it will substantially meet the 30% RES mandate passed by the legislature in 2010 by the middle of 2012.
If that happens, Xcel Energy will be a big eight years ahead of schedule. The downside? It could mean a slowdown in wind and solar deployment as Xcel’s need to add more assets is reduced.
For sure, there may be other projects under development that will eventually sell power to other markets, but Xcel is the biggest player in the sector. Without their drive, the market in the state is bound to be reduced.
“It will probably put a damper on wind project development activity in Colorado, but probably not a complete stop because Colorado has a good wind resource,” Steve Dayney, CEO of REpower USA Corp., told Cathy Proctor of the Denver Business Journal. The company is a German wind turbine manufacturer with U.S. headquarters in Denver.
Xcel could still add new assets to their renewables portfolio but such additions will be driven by questions of cost-effectiveness, or new rules made by Congress or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designed to curb carbon dioxide emissions, and not by the need to hit a state-mandated target, according to Robin Kittel, Xcel’s director of regulatory and policy analysis.
“We have what we need for renewable resources, but we’re not in a static world,” Kittel said.
“If Congress was to enact carbon legislation, or the EPA to exercise its authority to regulate carbon, it becomes a larger picture than just a compliance picture with a state goal.”
The utility filed a “Renewable Energy Standard Compliance Plan” with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission today that will detail how it plans to meet the state’s 30 percent standard during the next 10 years. Xcel said it will ask approval only for actions on the agenda for next year and 2013.
Some renewable energy advocates say that if Xcel believes it is done its work at the 30% standard, that figure should be raised. This is a view that most certainly will not be shared by some consumers who fear higher electricity rates. Colorado’s wind market now exceeds more than 1,250 megawatts, a sizeable jump from the previous year. But to give you an idea of the utility’s dominance in the industry, all but 60 of those megawatts are used by Xcel and its customers.
Xcel has two more wind farms coming on line later this year that will have a combined capacity of 500 megawatts. However, large scale wind and solar projects like these are opposed by groups in rural areas like the San Luis Valley. They favor smaller, localized distributed power generation that would have less impact on the regional environment.
Xcel counters that to meet the 30% RES figure requires such large scale solar and wind deployment.