Why Xcel Energy Might Not Meet Its Cleaner-Air Goals

October 6 2010, 10:30 AM

While Xcel Energy hit a new 52-week high in trading yesterday, it encountered a few lows in its relationship with the state of Colorado. That's because Xcel's $1.3 billion plan to shut down some coal-fired plants won't meet pollution-cutting goals or a 2017 deadline as promised, reports The Denver Post. Xcel wants to keep Denver's Cherokee 4 plant running until 2022 and has the support of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in asking state public health officials if a "truncated" plan, in which the plant remains open, would meet goals.

The short answer is "no," says the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

"The Department does not believe that the truncated plan will meet all reasonably foreseeable air pollution requirements," the agency writes in a commission filing. 

That puts the participating agencies in a "standoff," writes the Denver Business Journal, because state health department officials must approve the plan before the PUC can sign off. Xcel says it can't hasten the closure of the Cherokee 4 coal unit, as it lacks room to tear down the three other coal units while constructing two new natural-gas plants.