Public Service Company of Colorado

From Global Energy Monitor

Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo) is an operating utility engaged primarily in the generation, purchase, transmission, distribution, and sale of electricity in Colorado, to a territory that includes Denver and other cities as well as rural sections of Colorado.[1] It is a subsidiary of Xcel Energy. [2]

PSCo was incorporated in 1924 under the laws of Colorado. The wholesale customers served by PSCo comprised approximately 22 percent of its total sales in 2008. PSCo provides electric utility service to approximately 1.4 million customers and natural gas utility service to approximately 1.3 million customers. All of PSCo's retail electric operating revenues were derived from operations in Colorado during 2008. Generally, PSCo's earnings range from approximately 40 percent to 55 percent of Xcel Energy's consolidated net income.[3]

Existing Coal Plants

Plant Name State Year(s) Built Capacity
Cameo Station CO 1957, 1960 66 MW
Comanche Generating Station CO 1973, 1975 779 MW
Cherokee Station CO 1957, 1959, 1962, 1967 801 MW
Valmont Station CO 1964 192 MW
Hayden Station CO 1965, 1976 465 MW
Arapahoe Station CO

Proposed Coal Plants

Construction continues on Comanche Generating Station Unit 3, a 750 MW pulverized coal-fired unit at the existing Comanche Station located near Pueblo, CO, and installation of additional emission control equipment on the two existing Comanche Station units. Completion is planned for the fall of 2009.[3]

PSCo has an agreement with Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) and Holy Cross, which transfers a portion of capacity ownership in the Comanche 3 unit to IREA and Holy Cross: IREA will take ownership of 190 MW and Holy Cross will take ownership of 60 MW upon commercial operation. [3]

Coal Plant closures

In August 2008, Colorado regulators approved Xcel’s plan to shut down two coal plants: the Arapahoe Generating Station (Denver) and the Cameo Station (east of Grand Junction). According to Western Resource Advocates, "The utility’s decision to shut down the plants has been praised as the nation’s first voluntary effort to cut coal power generation in an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In its decision to support Xcel’s plan, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) cited public health benefits and shared concerns about carbon emissions as major selling-points in the company’s groundbreaking proposal. The verdict marks a collective effort to move the state and its utilities toward the carbon reduction goals outlined in Governor Bill Ritter’s Climate Action Plan."[4]

Xcel plans to replace the combined 229 MW of coal power with 850 MW of wind power and a 200 MW utility-scale solar power plant with storage capacity by 2015. Another key component of Xcel’s proposal, to build a 480 MW natural gas plant at the Arapahoe station, has been postponed pending approval by the Colorado PUC.[4]

The Cherokee Station 4 coal-fired plant is also scheduled to be shuttered in 2022. However, Xcel Energy announced in November 2010 its intent to close the plant, located north of Denver, in 2017, five years earlier than expected. The change of plans comes on the heels of the recently enacted Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act. As part of the legislation, Xcel receives financial incentives in exchange for a $1.3billion program of phasing out coal-fueled plants in favor of natural gas. The program targets plants in Boulder and Denver for conversion while facilities in Brush and Hayden would be upgraded to reduce pollution.[5]

As of November 2010, Xcel is also considering shutting down its Valmont Station Unit 5.[6]

Source of Coal

PSCo's generation stations use low-sulfur western coal purchased primarily under contracts with suppliers operating in Colorado and Wyoming. During 2008 and 2007, PSCo's coal requirements for existing plants were approximately 11 million and 10 million tons, respectively.[3]

Articles and Resources


  1. "Public Service Company of Colorado" Funding Universe website, accessed August 2009
  2. "Xcel Energy Subsidiaries" Xcel Energy website, accessed August 2009
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Xcel Energy 2008 10K Report" Edgar Online, Filed February 27, 2009
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Clean Energy Accomplishments," Western Resrouce Advocates, accessed April 2009
  5. Maryalene LaPonsie, "Green energy jobs are coming to Colorado" Utilities, Nov. 8, 2010.
  6. Mark Jaffe, "Nation watching Xcel's plans for aging coal-fired power plants" The Denver Post, Nov. 7, 2010.

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