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Thank you to the Commissioners and staff for hosting this public

meeting so you can receive input from those who do not have the legal
expertise or financial resources to participate in the proceedings in an
official way.

My name is John Cooke. I represent Senate District 13 in Weld County –

otherwise known as God’s country. I am the Majority Whip and I sit on
Senate Ag, Natural Resources and Energy.

I have several points I’d like to make, and I’ll be brief.

First, it is some of MY constituents that make up the Ratepayer

Coalition, a Colorado nonprofit worried about the cost to residential
and small business ratepayers who don’t have a voice. No one is
standing up for them. So, they are spending hundreds of thousands of
dollars just to get a seat at the table and provide expert testimony.

They are worried about cost because electric bills have gone up – a lot.
Increased prices haven’t necessarily come with improved service. In
fact, quite the opposite. Some suffer from poor power quality
(fluctuations in service). They can’t get enough power. Or, as in my
personal case, we are receiving a rebate of $5.19 because Xcel missed
some of their electric reliability targets that you all set for them. In
other words, we lose power pretty routinely. Xcel has made promises
to some of my business constituents, but Xcel don’t follow through.

Why do I bring this up? Because rather them let Xcel simply build more
so they can add to their asset base, why can’t Xcel, why won’t Xcel
maintain customers and infrastructure they have currently?

Second, this “plan” circumvents the state legislature. To quote my

colleague Jerry Sonnenberg:
Xcel is ‘pulling a bit of a fast one by going to the PUC for something it
couldn’t get passed through the Legislature last session.’

‘This proposal didn’t fly at the statehouse because Republicans don’t

believe it’s in the interest of Colorado energy consumers to shut down
our most affordable and dependable power plants, while subsidizing
expansion of unreliable, not-ready-for-primetime alternatives,’

Basically, they are seeking regulatory approval for something they

couldn’t get consensus on at the state capitol, and that’s even with
their army of lobbyists.

Third, why would we close Comanche 1 and 2 early?

Comanche I & II are near the middle of the life cyle. The typical life
expectancy for coal-fueled power plants are 60 – 70 years. It makes no
sense to retire a plant at mid-life, especially considering ratepayers
have invested over $190 million in the most up-to-date environmental
controls, that was in part due to a 2004 agreement, so why break the
agreement now?
Comanche is clean:

 According to EPA data, over the last five years, Comanche 1 and 2
emission rates have been significantly lower than the remaining
Colorado coal fleet. That’s because we’ve spent millions of dollars
upgrading their environmental controls.

Comanche is affordable/cheap, in fact:

 The Comanche power plant had the lowest cost electricity of any
coal-fueled power plant in Colorado, just $15.90 MWH in 2016,
which is one of the lowest in the nation.
Xcel Ratepayers NEED Comanche 1 and 2:
 Over the last five years, Comanche 1 and 2 average utilization
rates over 70 percent. In contrast, the 5-year average utilization
rate for Colorado coal plants was just 62 percent.

Closing Comanche 1 and 2 is like deciding to junk a perfectly good

Toyota Camry with another 80,000 miles left in its life cycle. You’ve
spent money maintaining it, and you still owe some money on it. But
you are going to replace it with a fleet of Teslas, and then you still have
to invest in a new Lexus because the Teslas aren’t always available
when you need them.

To say it this plan will save ratepayers money just boggles the mind. I’ve
looked at some of the testimony. It’s disturbing to see how Xcel has its
thumb on the scale to tilt financials in its favor.

There is a small business in my district that already laid off their only
part time employee because they can’t afford the higher minimum
wage. Instead, they’ve opted for shorter open hours. What do you think
an increase their electric bill will do to them? And for what? So, Xcel
can build more and add to its asset base?

So, from a cost perspective, ratepayer perspective, legislative

perspective, and usefulness perspective, I don’t see anything good in
this plan. It makes no sense to close relatively young, low-cost, highly
utilized, environmentally superior coal-fired plants.

This shouldn’t be called the Colorado Energy Plan. It should be called

the Xcel Profit Plan.
Speaking of how much the monopoly has profited, in the last decade:
 Xcel’s total asset values, on which it earns a rate of return, has
increased 77%
 Xcel’s profits have increased 94%
 profit margins have increased 10%

Remember, this has occurred as some of my constituents have seen a

decline in the quality of service.

In closing, you all have a decision to make. And I don’t envy you. The
political pressure is significant. The Governor, Xcel, and others are
working hard to get this thing through. I know you all are professionals
and neutral regulators, still, I’m sure that all of this weighs heavy.

Here’s the one thing I ask. If you decide to move ahead with this, please
don’t let Xcel and its supporters insult us by saying it will save
ratepayers money. That suggests that our electricity bills actually will go
down – not because we are using less electricity but that electricity in
total will cost less. Please, require honesty in the numbers, hold Xcel
accountable if those numbers don’t prove accurate. Ratepayers
shouldn’t have to pay while Xcel shareholders simply profit.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of my constituents.