Xcel's Colorado unit readies demolition of shut Arapahoe coal plant

The last two units at the plant were shut at the end of 2013

Share | Print PDF Print

Public Service Co. of Colorado applied June 23 to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for authorization to decommission its coal-fired Arapahoe Generating Station.

The commission previously approved the Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) subsidiary’s retirement of each of the four company-owned coal-fired units at the Arapahoe station, located in the south Denver metropolitan area. Arapahoe’s four coal-fired steam units had a total combined capacity of 245 MW when all units were in service. Units 1 and 2, with a nameplate capacity of 45 MW each, were retired in 2003. Unit 3, also with a nameplate capacity of 45 MW, and Unit 4, with a capacity of 110 MW, were retired as of Dec. 31, 2013, as a result of state clean air initiatives.

The utility has developed a decommissioning plan for the Arapahoe site that will result in the removal of all structures, except for certain below grade structures and the substation located on the site. Also to be preserved are the 115-kV and 230-kV transmission equipment and other facilities, such as the rail spur to support the continued operations of Air Liquide America Specialty Gases LLC. The company does not have immediate plans to redevelop the site.

In addition to the four retired company-owned generating units, the site also includes a coal pile, surface impoundments, cooling towers, an electrical transmission substation, power lines, offices and other support structures in addition to facilities located on the site that are not company-owned. As to these non-company facilities, Air Liquide, which specializes in providing industrial and medical gases, operates a liquid gas processing facility on site.

In addition, Southwest Generation owns and operates two 40-MW natural gas-fired combustion turbines and a 43-MW steam turbine at the site. Xcel Energy currently purchases the electric output from these Southwest Generation facilities under a power purchase agreement. These non-company facilities are not within the scope of the decommissioning plan and should not be materially affected by the decommissioning project.

The utility plans to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for a single contractor (who can use subcontractors) who will dismantle and remove plant structures and restore the site to a brownfield status. The company will prequalify bidders based on an initial request for information. Successful submissions from that process will result in four to six bidders who will be asked to bid on a package of work that includes the remediation of hazardous materials (like asbestos) at the Arapahoe site and the removal of the plant structures. The selected contractor will also be responsible for removing and disposing of scrap materials – bids are expected to be net of the value of scrap materials. The contractor will be solely responsible for its costs and schedule as well as for any subcontractors. The utility expects to award the contract in the first quarter of 2015 pending the outcome of this proceeding.

Barry Cassell
About the Author

Barry Cassell

Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 26 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.

Barry can be reached at barryc@pennwell.com.

toggle footer display