Colorado to Ditch Two Coal Plants, Moving to Solar and Wind

  • Published on August 21st, 2008

State regulators in Colorado have given the green light to plans by Xcel Energy to shut down two coal-powered energy plants in the state, and build one of the world’s largest utility-scale solar-power facilities.

Following discussions lasting several days, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) backed the power company’s voluntary decision to close the two coal-fired plants at Denver and Grand Junction, making Xcel the first utility in the U.S. to make such a move solely in an effort to reduce emissions.

CPUC also approved Xcel plans to build a new 200 MW solar power plant with energy storage capacity in the state, and granted permission for the company to add 850 MW of intermittent renewable energy, such as wind power.

The move comes in response to Colorado state laws requiring large utilities to generate 20% of their electricity from solar, wind or biomass sources by 2020. Xcel seems to be on track to meet the target with several years to spare. The Cameo plant at Grand Junction is scheduled to close down in December 2010, while the Arapahoe plant in Denver will be shut in 2012. Although Xcel haven’t yet invited bids from contractors to build the solar and wind plants, spokesman Mark Stutz has said, “we look forward to those additions to our system by 2015.”

The Colorado decision follows recent announcements of large-scale renewable energy plans in Florida and Pennsylvania, and is hopefully a sign a of a growing trend throughout the U.S.

Other Posts on Renewable Energy Policy:

Image Credit – DanieVDM via Flickr on a Creative Commons License

About the Author

is a writer and freelance journalist specialising in sustainability and green issues. He lives in Cardiff, Wales.


  • Nuclear power is irreplaceable for ships and subs. We must conserve it for these purposes. The remaining oil has irreplaceable applications and must be allocated for them. Coal exploitation is still at the primitive, ‘You burn it for heat’ stage, Come on, biology, chemistry and physics, modernize this wonder-fuel into something we can use safely! Wind is about to be revealed to the American people by the last great energy prophet, T. Boone Pickens. Using his genius, we will be able to adapt to using much less oil in a very comfortable manner. The South Western U.S. is currently being bought up by those ‘in the know’ financial people, and solar power is a modern reality, and our power grids are growing to accommodate this huge free resource. Good news for us! Bad news for the oil barons! We will kick their asses good, they will never hi-jack another prosperous American economy. We don’t need to fight their (The Saudis) dirty Suni war either. We can survive very well on the oil we pump from our own lands. We have seen the light, we have developed the technology and we are about to elect the government that will, in spite of the oil barons lobby, implement an America free from parasite oil nations.

  • Solar and wind are two alternative energy sources that we should seriously look into. As a taxpayer, I don’t mind if more budgets are allocated towards building new plants that harvest this energy source. It’s time that someone acts before it’s too late.

  • Hey, good luck with that. Those wacky Germans are planning to shut down nuclear plants for wind farms. I read about that in an article titled "Build Wind, Drop Nuclear? Germany Loses its Mind!" at

    Coal and nuclear provide base loads and are dependable, while solar and wind can not provide base loads continuously. I personally want more nuclear!!

  • exuse me bob but did you know a wind farm the size of 25 percent of nebraska would power the whole u.s.

  • Bob-

    I'm not sure what kind of grasp you have on Colorado energy policy, but apparently it is not a very good one.

    1. Xcel has no need to worry about contractor bids – as soon as they announce the RFP, they will be inundated.

    2. In no way could this be deemed a 'land grab' or a 'state govt payoff' – no matter how you define the terms.

    3. If you knew Xcel and how aggressively they are pursuing solar and wind, I think you would see that your comment about the plants never going on line is sorely misinformed. If you're a betting man, I'd love to place a friendly wager with you.

    I'd even give you really good odds.

  • To quote you…

    "Although Xcel haven’t yet invited bids from contractors to build the solar and wind plants"

    "hopefully a sign a of a growing trend throughout the U.S."

    Shutting down power plants with no replacement for the energy currently produced. A hopefully "growing trend".

    Really? Do you know how much land that power is going to require to generate the equivalent of those 2 coal plants at max output with solar and wind?

    How about the whole state. This is a stupid land grab and a state govt payoff if Ive ever seen one.

    Those plants will never go online. And the state will be out power.

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