Boulder, CO made a “request for indicative pricing” and found out what cities can get along the Front Range, without a protected monopoly (Xcel). With “right of choice” cities could get:
- 89% Renewable Energy (2024) at about 2/3 the Cost of Power from Xcel!
- 100 % Renewable Energy (2030) at about ¾ the Cost of Power from Xcel!
Late 2018 City (Boulder) —Request for Indicative Pricing
PRPA – Northern Colorado already offers electricity 25% cheaper than Xcel (they are not extracting profits to send out of state). We can clean up our electricity faster with the ability of Colorado cities, businesses, utilities, co-ops have the right of choice with their electricity; e.g., access to wholesale electricity on an open market. This is the #1 item listed by PRPA that they need to reach their goal of 100% RE by 2030. See http://energyfreedomco.org/community-options.php
One year earlier, Xcel received nationwide and even internationally competitive bids to offer renewable electricity to the state. Unfortunately, Xcel took very few of the bids and instead proposed to spend ~$380 million on gas plants through 2022 or 2023 instead of pursuing a decarbonization track. Still, the public knows from these bids what Xcel could be doing instead.
Xcel Energy receives shockingly low bids for Colorado electricity from renewable sources
Solar and wind generation with storage now competitive with coal power
January 16, 2018 at 8:13 pm
Renewable-energy developers have offered to supply Xcel Energy with electricity at the lowest prices quoted in the U.S., including solar and wind options with energy storage priced below what coal-generated power in the state costs.
“The response was amazing. The world is our oyster. It was like walking into a Las Vegas buffet,” said Erin Overturf, chief energy counsel for Western Resource Advocates, one of several environmental groups that want the utility to reduce its dependence on coal.
Xcel last year estimated it would need 450 megawatts of additional generation to meet future demand under its 2016 Electric Resource Plan.
In August, Xcel and several other parties reached an agreement known as the Clean Energy Plan to shutter two older coal plants in Pueblo, but only if lower-cost alternatives could replace their 660 megawatts, including the added costs involved with shutting the plants down 10 years early.
Backers of the plan estimated Xcel’s Colorado customers would save $175 million if wind bids came in at $20 megawatt hour (M/Wh) and solar at $30 M/Wh, Overturf said.
What they didn’t count on was how many bids would come in from the Nov. 30 solicitation, more than 430, with 350 just for renewables, or how low they would come in. Wind-only bids had a median price quoted of $18 M/Wh, meaning half of the bids were below that. Solar only came in at a median price of $29.50 M/Wh.
Wind costs less than coal, and solar has more recently become cost competitive. But both sources are intermittent, meaning they either need storage, such as batteries, or more reliable generation sources such as coal and natural gas to fill in the gaps.
What stands out about the response Xcel received is that wind sources with storage are now cheaper than coal generation, and solar plus storage is now cheaper than about 75 percent of coal generation in the state, according to CarbonTracker.
“As far as we know, these are the lowest renewables plus storage bids in the U.S. to date. The previously lowest known solar plus storage bid price was $45/MWh in Arizona in May 2017,” wrote Matt Gray, a senior utilities and power analyst with Carbon Tracker.
Solar with storage was bid at a median price of $36/MWh, and wind with storage came in at $21/MWh, prices so low they have generated a buzz nationally among those who track the utility industry.
Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said any discussion of the proposals beyond what the utility provided in a Dec. 28 report is premature.
The bids were made at a time when federal tax credits for wind and solar installations were at risk in the tax reforms Congress passed. Those will remain in place, but they’ll be phased out over time, adding an urgency for solar and wind power developers.
The federal government may also decide at the end of the month to impose new tariffs on solar panels imported from China and other countries. That could raise costs for solar power.
For those and other reasons, Xcel will give bidders a chance to refresh their proposals based on updated information.
Based on where the first round of bids came in, a strong case can be made for the Colorado Public Utilities Commission accepting the Colorado Energy Plan when it comes up for a vote around March 21.
Xcel will then craft a plan based on how much power it needs and what it considers the best mix to supply it. The PUC is expected to rule on that plan around July 26.