The Consumers Plan: $1 billion savings with cleaner energy for Xcel customers

Published February 11, 2021

Minnesota regulators are currently considering Xcel Energy’s plan for how it will generate electricity over the next 15 years. For Xcel customers, this plan largely decides how much of your energy will come from coal, gas, wind, solar, and nuclear, as well as a great deal about the programs that Xcel will offer for energy conservation and similar opportunities. 

Although Xcel’s proposed plan offers good steps toward a clean energy transition, CUB has found that Xcel can meet its customers’ electricity needs at an annual cost to customers of $1 billion less than Xcel’s plan, with less pollution and no risky investments in fossil fuel generation. We presented our detailed utility system modeling and recommendations to state regulators today in CUB’s Consumers Plan.

Below, I’ll share more details about the Consumers Plan, the IRP process, and how you can participate. This post covers:

 

The Consumers Plan

CUB analyzed Xcel’s options and developed the Consumers Plan: an alternative that will save customers millions of dollars while reducing emissions faster than Xcel’s proposal. 

We found that Xcel should rely more heavily on renewable energy: in particular, much more wind power and distributed solar generation that is located close to where its customers use power. Xcel should help its customers switch from fossil fuel to electricity use for space heating, water heating, and vehicles, in the many instances that it is cost effective to do so. It should close its coal plants sooner. Importantly, Xcel should not build the new Sherco gas plant. It can meet customers’ needs reliably and more affordably without doing so, and without building a fossil fuel plant that will need major modifications or face early closure in order to meet Xcel’s 2050 promise.

Altogether, the Consumers Plan costs Xcel customers $1 billion less each year than Xcel’s proposal.

You can read CUB’s Consumers Plan and our complete technical report.

We developed and are advocating for this plan with the support of a team of national experts from Vibrant Clean Energy, GridLab, and Keyes & Fox.

 

The integrated resource plan process

Electricity utilities like Xcel are required by Minnesota law to submit integrated resource plans (IRPs) regularly to the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC). An IRP is a roadmap that public utilities use to project customers’ electricity demand and identify the combination of power generation sources, energy efficiency, and other options to best meet that demand. Minnesota utilities are regulated monopoly companies, so their plans must be approved by the PUC. 

The process started when Xcel filed its analysis and its preferred plan. Like all PUC proceedings, the IRP is a public process. Any group or individual may intervene, putting evidence on the record to support Xcel’s proposed plan or suggest changes. CUB is one of many parties who are intervening, along with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, environmental and clean energy advocates, Xcel’s large industrial customers, and others.

On February 11, intervenors filed formal comments laying out their positions. The parties and Xcel have a chance to respond to each other’s filings in reply comments on April 12. Any member of the public may comment, too. (See below.) Finally, the PUC will hold a hearing (open to the public) and issue an order setting Xcel’s resource plan based on all of the evidence that has been presented. Most likely, the PUC will accept some portions of Xcel’s proposal and require changes to other portions in line with intervenors’ arguments.

 

Join CUB on March 5 for more information

I will explain the IRP process, Xcel’s proposed plan, and the cheaper and cleaner Consumers Plan, and help answer any questions you have. This event is free and open to the public.

Friday, March 5, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

If you can’t make it to this event and/or you’d like CUB to discuss the IRP at an upcoming meeting of a group you’re a part of, let me know! You can reach me at annielf@cubminnesota.org or 651-300-4701, ext. 1.

 

Make a public comment

You can support the Consumers Plan by submitting a public comment to the PUC by April 12. Use the form below or submit a comment by email, mail, or other means.  

Make sure to reference PUC Docket No. 19-368, and please note that everything in your comment, including your name and email address, will become a part of the public record. Your address will not be shared.

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Author: Annie Levenson-Falk

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