Replacing aging coal plants with wind and solar can save Colorado $2.5 billion by 2040, study

A new report commissioned by Community Energy, Inc. finds that replacing Colorado’s aging coal plants with a mix of wind and solar backed by battery storage and natural gas would save Colorado electric customers almost $250 million per year, roughly $2.5 billion in net present value through 2040. The modeling study, prepared by Vibrant Clean Energy, LLC, shows the proposed fleet of new clean energy resources would also cut Colorado state-wide annual carbon emissions from electric generation by almost 65 percent over the planning horizon as compared to today’s levels.
Using assumptions from recent Colorado PUC filings, the study finds that the significant economic benefit of retiring aging coal plants holds true across most natural gas pricing, interest rate and demand growth assumptions. It is primarily driven by the fact that new wind and solar facilities are now less expensive to build than the operating costs of the aging coal fleet. The report indicates there is an opportunity to recover up to $1.5 billion in undepreciated asset value by the coal-plant owners to facilitate the voluntary phased retirement of the coal plants. Wind and solar prices in the report reflect a mix of both utility and private ownership, consistent with the approach adopted in the recent Colorado PUC-approved retirement of two coal units in Pueblo, Colorado.
A summary of the study and its key assumptions can be downloaded free of charge at www.communityenergyinc/press.
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