From Zane Selvans, Dec 5 2018

The announcement covers the entirety of Xcel’s service territory (Northern States Power, Southwest Public Service, and Public Services of Colorado), and they do have some nuclear in Minnesota (Monticello 671MW, and Prairie Island 1.1GW). Their pledge is to reduce emissions, without saying how it’s done. I doubt they think that they could get any new nuclear built by 2030, but they seem to be keeping it on the table for 2050 if need be, without making any particular commitment to how the last 20% of emissions reductions would be implemented.

A few interesting related recent articles… maybe folks have seen some of them already:

  • Jesse Jenkins on the value of firm zero-carbon resources in operating fully decarbonized electricity systems operation (full paper, also attached)
  • Another study looking at how under-scheduling solar PV can both reduce curtailment and increase the overall share of solar that’s ultimately integrated — by a factor of two. Blog post reviewing it, and the full paper.
  • Coincidentally PacifiCorp also released the preliminary analysis of their coal plant economics for the 2019 IRP yesterday. It’s a huuuuge slide deck which I have not fully digested, but it looks like they are acknowledging that several plants are uneconomic and should be swapped out — especially the plants where they share ownership with Xcel.
  • And on the possibility of Colorado joining SPP or another competitive market, especially if we remain vertically integrated, Joe Daniels from Union of Concerned Scientists (formerly Sierra Club) has an interesting piece of research exploring how monopoly utilities that play in competitive markets often dispatch their own plants even when it’s uneconomic to do so. Detailed look at SPP from last year, and the beginnings of a fuller writeup covering a bunch of other ISOs/RTOs — the problem appears to be endemic.
  • Some of this stuff got me thinking about whether it might be possible to specifically design renewable energy deployments to depress prices at specific transmission nodes during the most profitable hours for existing fossil plants, forcing them offline. So I wrote a little blog post.