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FERC rule to spark energy transmission building nationwide; Rudy Giuliani pleads not guilty to felony charges in AZ election interference case; new digital tool emerges to help MN students with FAFSA woes; WY governor to talk property tax shifts in a TeleTown Hall.

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Israel's Prime Minister calls the new ICC charges unfair. Trump's lawyers found more classified documents in Mar-a-Lago, months after an FBI's search. And a new report finds election deniers are advancing to the fall election.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

PUC scales back renewable electricity, adds new natural-gas plants

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Monday, January 8, 2024   

Even though 2023 was the hottest year on record, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission is adding more fossil fuel-generated power and scaling back Xcel Energy's proposed investments in clean energy.

The commission has been on the hot seat to rein in high energy bills, largely due to volatile natural gas prices, and claimed its recently approved energy plan for Xcel is a win for ratepayers.

Noah Rott, western region deputy press secretary for the Sierra Club, said they got the math wrong.

"The plan that was approved is 23% more expensive than Xcel's portfolio that they proposed on a dollar-per-megawatt basis," Rott pointed out.

The commission's plan added 669 megawatts from new gas power plants, which critics contended are likely to become stranded assets as Colorado and the world face a looming 2030 deadline to avert the worst impacts of climate change by dramatically cutting fossil fuel pollution. Xcel has argued natural gas is needed to maintain reliable service.

The commission acknowledged the renewables they rejected in Xcel's initial proposal will be needed in the near future, but balked at the company's $15 billion price tag. By delaying investments in renewables and transmission lines, the commission hopes to better understand costs to ratepayers.

Rott emphasized punting on clean energy could result in even higher energy bills for ratepayers.

"The problem with that logic is that if Xcel is buying renewable electricity four or five years from now, instead of two or three years from now, four or five years from now it might be more expensive than it is now," Rott asserted.

The commission's plan would increase Xcel's renewable-energy portfolio to 77% by 2030 and invests in 678 megawatts of renewable-energy battery storage. But Rott noted it also cuts more than 2,000 megawatts of wind and solar capacity proposed by Xcel.

"It's a disappointing outcome in terms of reducing carbon emissions," Rott added. "But it's also a disappointing outcome, I think, for customers who were really actually excited to hear that Xcel was going to build out a ton of renewable energy."

Disclosure: The Sierra Club contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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