Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis-based, quasi-monopolistic public utility that provides power to roughly 1.5 million Colorado customers, announced yesterday that it plans to emit zero carbon emissions from the eight states in which it operates by 2050.
Someone give these guys a trophy for “most ambiguously boastful plan of 2018.” Even the utility’s cheerleaders have no clue how this can be achieved, but hey, let’s not let facts and economic reality get in the way of a good time. From the Colorado Sun (emphasis ours):
“I believe this is the single most exciting development in the clean energy space this year,” Rich Powell, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Clear Path, said at the event. “Not only has Xcel taken the bold leadership to go first on the path that we know all U.S. utilities must go — to zero emissions by 2050 or sooner — but they’ve done it while acknowledging they’re not entirely sure how to get there. And that’s OK.”
That’s an absolutely amazing concession, particularly considering that Xcel is the reigning, undisputed, heavyweight champion of simply making s*** up. When the utility brought its Colorado Energy Plan to the state’s Public Utilities Commission earlier this year, it promised that shuttering two of Colorado’s best-performing power plants in favor of costly industrial wind and solar projects would not result in any increases on ratepayers’ bills. While the Commission ultimately passed Xcel’s plan (itself a sketchy subject for another day), Commissioner Wendy Moser succinctly undercut the crux of the utility’s promise:
“The customers of Xcel Energy will pay for the retirement of these plants and it will show up in rates,” she said. “So don’t think that this is free and that it’s going to be borne by somebody else.”
So yeah, great, free plan. Except we have to pay for it.
Unsurprisingly, Governor-elect Jared Polis, who spent much of the 2018 campaign pointing to Xcel’s deceptive Colorado Energy Plan as a model we should all aspire to, was super stoked about Xcel’s announcement, hilariously suggesting that “we’re showing the country the way.”
Here’s “the way,” as we understand it: point out whatever comprises a perfect world, tell the public that we’re going to get there, and then slap a comically long-term timeline toward actually achieving it, without being “entirely sure how to get there.”
There’s a lesson in that for Walker Stapleton, who ran for Governor on real-world annoyances: facts and figures. The fellow should have just promised free Epic Passes for all Coloradans by the year 2250.
In the meantime, Colorado, enjoy the benefits of Xcel’s grandiose plans. You’ll see it in your energy bills well before you see any actual progress. Just trust them – the good stuff is coming someday, somehow if they can figure it out.