GarCo commissioners push for Xcel plant on Western Slope |

GarCo commissioners push for Xcel plant on Western Slope

Ryan Summerlin
Tom Jankovsky
Christopher Mullen |

Garfield County commissioners are joining other Western Slope officials in trying to convince Xcel Energy to bring a proposed gas-fired power plant to the area.

After the subject came up at a meeting of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky suggested that the commissioners should follow Mesa County’s lead and appeal to the governor and the energy company to bring the proposed 700-megawatt gas-fired plant to the Western Slope.

Xcel’s proposed investment in a natural gas-powered plant follows news that the company plans to shut down two coal-fired power generators in Pueblo, at its Comanche power plant, announced in August.

As part of Xcel’s proposed Colorado Energy Plan, it would replace those coal-fired generators with wind, solar and natural gas plants, possibly investing as much as $2.5 billion in those plants, which produce lower carbon dioxide emissions. Xcel’s proposal is still before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, which will have to make its decision before a location for the possible power plant can be determined.

A state oil and gas initiative, through Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office, has been looking into finding supply for the region’s natural gas, such as a liquefied natural gas export terminal in Jordan Cove, Jankovsky said Monday. Through that initiative came Xcel’s proposal for a new natural gas plant, likely in rural Colorado.

“Why not have that on the Western Slope?” said Jankovsky. “It would be another thing to give us some demand and stability for our natural gas. We all know that we’re sitting on the second largest reserves in the United States, more than 100 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.”

Getting that Xcel plant on the Western Slope could also “stop some of the peaks and valleys we have and maybe stabilize for Garfield County our budgeting process,” he said.

Garfield County, along with all its property taxing districts, have in recent years suffered from declining property tax revenue tied to oil and gas production.

Officials from Rio Blanco County at the West Slope COGA meeting also wanted to get involved and said they already have a site picked out for the plant in their county, said Jankovsky.

“It doesn’t matter if this is built in Garfield County, Mesa County or Rio Blanco County; I think the real winner is the gas that is produced by Garfield County,” said Jankovsky.

Commissioner Mike Samson was all on board, though he wanted to see the proposed plant, if it were built on the Western Slope, to be built in Garfield County, where most of the region’s natural gas is produced.

Commissioners agreed to have county staff work with Mesa County and the oil and gas industry to form a coalition to start lobbying for this effort — to put pressure on the governor and offer incentives that would attract the energy company.

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