Nov. 6, 2019
To: CO Public Utilities Commission
RE: 350 Colorado statement, delivered by 350CO President Sunni Benoit, regarding Xcel’s 2019 Rate Increase Request
I am speaking today as 350 Colorado’s Board President and on behalf our 18,000+ members statewide to urge you, as you consider Xcel/PSCo’s recent rate increase proposal, to seize this moment to move Colorado forward effectively toward a clean renewable energy future, so that Coloradans can benefit from the significant cost savings, cleaner environment, better health and safer climate that will result.
As an organization that is dedicated to working toward solutions to solve the climate crisis, we strongly support the transition from a fossil fuel-based electric grid to a system increasingly reliant on clean renewable energy, which is now not only at grid parity, but even less expensive than fossil fuels, as demonstrated by Xcel’s most recent bids. In order to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which the International Panel on Climate Change says must be the goal if we are to avert the most serious impacts to our planet’s climate system, the vast majority of fossil fuels must stay in the ground and the transition off fossil fuels must begin immediately and happen swiftly. The IPCC calls for at least half of that reduction to happen in the next decade. This is consistent with HB1261, which passed this past legislative session calling for an initial goal of 26% emissions reductions by 2025 (from 2005 levels).
This means that those in leadership and decision-making roles must, in all good conscience, steer energy resources toward renewable energy as quickly as possible. Fortunately we are blessed in Colorado with excellent solar and good wind energy potential, and we have real-life, affordable wind and solar plus storage bids for projects ready to go, backing up that potential. 73% fossil fueled electricity is unacceptable at a time when the vast majority – over 97% – of climate scientists tell us that anthropogenic climate change is already causing serious impacts, which will become more devastating in the years to come. Colorado is already experiencing more intense wildfires, floods, droughts, temperature extremes and pine beetle devastation of our forests.
Unfortunately, Xcel’s current operations involve over $500 million per year being spent on fossil fuel generation ($400 million/ year on fuel, over $100 million/year on O&M, tens of millions/year on fixing this and that e.g. capital expenditures…). The vast majority of Colorado ratepayers are concerned about the climate crisis and do not approve of continuing to pay for the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting damage to our air quality, health, environment and global climate.
While considering PSCo’s rate increase request, we urge the Commission to consider the following:
– PSCo’s system size and sales have been relatively flat while profits have soared
– PSCo has significant excess capacity above the approx. 1000 MW (16.3%) reserve margin.
– PSCo should not continue to profit so highly and be rewarded for past abuses and mistakes – the public interest must be properly protected.
– Rates are already high and should be reduced; $551 million in after-tax net income is already excessive.
– Every effort should be made to encourage PSCo to transition off fossil fuels and to utilize the renewable energy projects available.