home Nuclear Attitude, U Only a nuclear reactor can make Pueblo “whole” after Xcel Energy closes last coal-fired plant, local group says

Only a nuclear reactor can make Pueblo “whole” after Xcel Energy closes last coal-fired plant, local group says

After a 10-month study, a community-based committee says the only energy technology that can make up for lost jobs, taxes and economic activity is an advanced nuclear power plant

PUEBLO — The only way Pueblo can be “made whole” after the closure of Xcel Energy’s massive, coal-fired Comanche Station is for the utility to replace it with an advanced nuclear power plant, according to a community-based energy committee.

“Comanche has been an economic generator for this community for a long time,” Frances Koncilja, co-chair of the committee, said Friday at a press conference. “The closure is going to have a big economic impact.”

The Pueblo Innovative Energy Committee was formed 10 months ago, with support from Xcel Energy, to look at ways to offset the losses in tax base, jobs and economic activity the 2031 closure of the Comanche 3 unit will bring.

With the shutdown of the first two Comanche units, in 2022 and 2025, tax payments to Pueblo County will have dropped by 21% and when the third unit is shuttered in 2031 tax payments will drop another 69% to $7.1 million.

Xcel Energy has committed to paying $15.9 million annually in lieu of lost taxes through 2040. This “transitional period,” the committee said in its report, “should not be wasted.”

The committee looked at a variety of energy technologies — such as compressed air energy storageflow batteries and solar — and concluded in its report that from the standpoint of jobs and taxes the only comparable replacement was a modular nuclear plant.

“The only way we don’t feel pain is a nuke,” said Jerry Bellah, a committee member and the vice president for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers District 8. The committee was composed of prominent business, labor, education and civic leaders.

The recommendation, however, drew immediate criticism from environmental and clean energy advocates.

“A small handful of people are misleading Pueblo officials into pushing for an untested and outrageously expensive new nuclear reactor,” Noah Rott, a spokesman for the Sierra Club, said in an email.  “Xcel has already said that an advanced nuclear reactor cannot be built in time to replace Comanche 3 — which must close by 2031 — if it could be built at all.”

Source: The Colorado Sun