* Xcel studying changes at three Denver-area coal plants
* Nitrogen oxide reduction to be complete by 2017
HOUSTON, April 20 Xcel Energy's (XEL.N)
Colorado utility, the largest in the state, will retire,
retrofit or repower about 900 megawatts of coal-fired
generation to reduce air pollution under a new state law signed
by the governor this week.
Units as three Denver-area coal plants are being evaluated
for possible retirement or conversion to burn natural gas, an
Xcel Energy spokesman said.
The sites being studied include a 186-megawatt coal unit at
the Valmont plant, four units, totaling 717 MW, at the Cherokee
station and a 505-MW coal unit at the Pawnee station.
Under Colorado's recently passed Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act,
Xcel Energy will submit a plan to state regulators in August to
reduce its nitrogen oxide emissions from coal units by up to 80
percent from 2008 levels by 2017.
The plan will likely include a combination of unit
retirement, replacement with gas turbines or installation of
improved pollution control equipment, said spokesman Mark
Reducing NOX emissions at power plants and other industrial
sites will help Colorado as it works to comply with federal
clean air standards.
The Colorado utility has previously agreed to shut a 73-MW
coal unit at its Cameo plant by the end of the year and may
shut or repower coal units at its Arapahoe Station sometime
after 2012 to meet stricter emission standards.
Meanwhile, a third coal unit at the Xcel's Comanche Station
near Pueblo is expected to be online next month, bringing
Xcel's coal-fired capacity in the state to 3,200 MW.
Xcel Energy serves more than 1.1 million customers in
(Reporting by Eileen O'Grady; Editing by Marguerita Choy)