Has Xcel captured the PUC?
Is the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) about to serve Xcel our wallets on a silver platter?
The proposed settlement of Xcel’s Electric Resource Plan, currently before the PUC, would give Xcel over $1 billion from its customers for “cost recovery” on its coal plants. This includes over $700 million for the troubled and unreliable unit 3 in Pueblo (Comanche 3). Xcel is hoping to get this money from customers rather than from its owners, even though Pueblo 3—Colorado’s largest single emitter of CO2—should never have been built in the face of climate change and though most normal businesses would never be able to get their customers to pay for a bad management decision.
Xcel is a monopoly. It makes a hefty return (over 9% on its invested equity). And although its sales have been virtually flat for the last 15 years, its profits have soared—more than tripling since 2005. ($211 million in after-tax net income from Colorado in 2005; $660 million in after-tax net income from Colorado in 2021.)
The PUC should either make Xcel pay for its own mistake or, if it decides to let Xcel off the hook and remove Xcel’s risk exposure, reduce Xcel’s rate of return to something like what a low-risk investment would earn.
Chris Hoffman / Boulder
PUC should protect the public—not Xcel’s shareholders
I have lived in Colorado long enough to remember when electric customers had to pay off the failed Fort St. Vrain nuclear plant.
Now Xcel wants its customers to pay off its coal plant mistakes, including the big new, troubled Unit 3 coal plant in Pueblo—which is still offline.
All told, customers could be responsible for over $1 billion in stranded coal assets with Xcel earning its full level of profits on several of the coal plants—even after they are retired!
As is so often the case, these costs will fall disproportionately on low-income families, further exacerbating the serious energy inequities in our system.
I sure wish to see our public servants take seriously their duty to protect the public—and not Xcel’s shareholders!
The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will decide on Friday June 10, 2022 at 1 p.m. whether Xcel gets to make its customers pay for all of its coal mistakes.
You can hear the PUC deliberate by listening to the webcasts for Hearing Room A on the Colorado PUC website.
Let’s hope that this time our Public Utilities Commission stands up for the public and not for Xcel’s monopoly profits!
Crystal Gray, former Boulder City Council member / Boulder
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