Utilities, Solar, Wind  -  January 17, 2018

Xcel Energy receives “shockingly low bids” for solar and wind

Xcel Energy has received bids from renewable energy developers at the lowest prices in the U.S., with energy storage priced below costs for coal-generated power.

A report in the Denver Post described "shockingly low bids" for solar and wind options. "The world is our oyster. It was like walking into a Las Vegas buffet," said Erin Overturf, chief energy counsel for Western Resource Advocates, an environmental group urging the utility to reduce its dependence on coal.

In August the Clean Energy Plan called for shuttering two older coal plants in Pueblo only if lower-cost alternatives could replace their 660 MWh. At that point, estimates noted Xcel’s Colorado customers would save $175 million if wind bids came in at $20 mWh and solar at $30 MWh. When more than 430 bids came in following the Nov. 30 solicitation, wind-only bids hit a median price of $18 MWh, solar-only at $29.50 MWh. Additionally, the median bid for solar with storage median was $36 MWh, with wind storage ag a median of $21 MWh.

CarbonTracker calculates that wind sources with storage are now cheaper than coal generation, and solar plus storage is now cheaper than about 75 percent of coal generation in the state.  "As far as we know, these are the lowest renewables plus storage bids in the U.S. to date," said Matt Gray, senior utilities and power analyst with CarbonTracker, adding, "The previously lowest known solar plus storage bid price was $45 MWh in Arizona in May 2017." 

Xcel Energy will offer bidders a chance to revise their proposals to account for a phasing-out of tax credits for wind and solar installations, as well as potential new tariffs on important solar panels. 

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