Colorado Air Pollution – Xcel Power Plants


Photo: WildEarth Guardians | Flickr

Xcel’s Cherokee Power Plant, which recently converted from burning coal to fracked gas, is located within sight of the Suncor Oil Refinery in Commerce City. The facility was issued a new air permit in 2012 under the now-defunct PS Memo 10-01 and did not include necessary air modeling. The impact of Cherokee and Suncor emissions on Commerce City have never been assessed cumulatively, only individually, despite the facilities being located right next to one another. 


Photo: Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment

The Pawnee Generating Station, run by Xcel outside of Brush, is one of the last remaining coal plants in the state of Colorado. The company has announced plans to transition to burning fracked gas by 2028, and decommission the plant by 2041. Xcel’s plans still need to be approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. In the meantime, CDPHE has disregarded the plant’s multi-year SO2 emissions overages. On May 7, 2021, the CDPHE Air Division whistleblowers filed a request that the state Attorney General’s office expand their investigation of the department to account for the false interpretations of data regarding Pawnee’s one-hour pollution modeling.