Sunrise brief: Xcel Colorado aims to add 5.6 GW of renewables and storage capacity

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Xcel Energy released details on an $8 billion Clean Energy Plan, which it will deliver to Colorado state utility regulators in March.

The plan calls for cutting the utility’s carbon dioxide emissions 85% below 2005 levels by 2030. To reach that goal, Xcel said it plans to double its renewable energy portfolio in the state and stop using coal-fired generation by 2040.

The plan is in response to a 2019 Colorado state law that required regulated utilities to cut carbon emissions by 80% in the next 10 years.

Xcel’s plan calls for adding around 5,600 MW of new renewable and energy storage capacity. The mix includes 1,600 MW of large-scale solar projects, 400 MW of battery storage, and 2,300 MW of wind power. Another 1,300 MW of distributed solar, such as community solar gardens, would also be added.

By 2030, 80% of the electricity Xcel generates in Colorado would come from renewable sources, the company said.

The plan also calls for adding 1,300 MW of “dispatchable” resources, primarily natural gas and battery storage to balance the wind and solar generation.

For example, the new plan proposes converting the 505 MW Pawnee Generating Station to natural gas in 2028. And, Xcel earlier had planned to run the newest unit of its coal-fired Comanche Generating Station until 2070. The utility said it now plans to retire that unit by 2040. Two older units at the plant are slated to close by 2025.

The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign recently gave Xcel a grade of C in assessing its progress toward achieving clean energy goals. The grade was based in part on the utility’s plan to operate Pawnee and Comanche past 2030.

Community solar for O’ahu

Altus Power America said it will build a 4.5 MW ground-mounted solar energy project in Kapolei, Hawai’i on the island of O’ahu. It will be the one of the largest community-based renewable energy projects in Hawai’i. Altus Power acquired the project from Tritium Enterprises, which led the development effort and will support construction, community engagement, and ongoing operations.

The project is expected to be online in the fourth quarter of 2021 and will generate more than 6,500 MWh of electricity during its first year of operation. This will be Altus Power’s third investment in Hawai’i and the first to specifically provide energy savings through solar credits to residential customers in addition to commercial and municipal entities.

Wells Fargo notches investment milestone

Wells Fargo Renewable Energy & Environmental Finance said it recently passed the $10 billion mark in tax-equity investments in the solar, wind, and fuel cell industries. It said its investments include more than 500 projects, representing around 12% of all solar and wind energy capacity in the U.S. over the past 10 years. Wells Fargo said it wrote around $2.4 billion in financing for renewables in 2020, up $1 billion from 2019.

Enphase Energy fundraising

Enphase Energy said it is planning to issue $1 billion of senior notes. The California-based microinverter company said it would issue $500 million of convertible senior notes due to mature on March 1, 2026. A similar tranche of notes would be settled in 2028. Enphase said the proceeds would finance a hedge against possible dilution of stock value due to the issuance; a repurchase program related to the company’s 1%-interest-bearing 2024 notes and 0.25%, 2025 instruments; and general expenses.

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