PUC weighs rate-increase refunds in light of Comanche 3 power plant delay

Tests over the weekend on Xcel Energy’s new Comanche 3 coal-fired power plant revealed cracks in boiler tubing that will push the facility’s opening beyond Jan. 15 of 2010, according to filings with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

The PUC is holding a hearing at 11 a.m. in Denver today to determine if the delays will necessitate a refund to ratepayers for rate increases to recoup some of the costs of building the new $1.7 billion plant near Pueblo.

Comanche 3 (Xcel)
Comanche 3 (Xcel)

Environmental groups have blasted the investment in coal, which they say will be hit hard by climate change legislation. Critics estimate Xcel has garnered $240 million to pay for Comanche 3 in three rate increase cases in the last four years.

The power plant was originally supposed to be online in November.

Editor’s note: The PUC Tuesday set another meeting on the topic for 10 a.m. Wednesday to hear testimony from Xcel on the advantages and disadvantages of either allowing the most recent $128 million rate increase to go into effect and refunding ratepayers when Comanche 3 goes online, or adjusting the rate increase as of Jan. 1. Listen to Tuesday’s meeting live via webcast.

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