IREA typically receives over 50% of its energy from Comanche Unit 3, the 750-megawatt super-critical, pulverized coal power plant near Pueblo. IREA owns 25.3% of Unit 3. Holy Cross Energy owns 8%. Xcel Energy owns the rest and operates the plant.
A turbine blade failure in January 2020 took the plant out of service for nearly five months. The turbine and generator were damaged in June when Xcel attempted to bring the unit back into service. The extensive damage has taken another six months to repair.
Due to these incidents, Unit 3 has produced almost no energy during 2020 and IREA has had to purchase replacement energy at more than twice the cost of Unit 3 production.
We have been able to defer much of this additional cost until 2021 and 2022 and will seek to recover that cost from responsible parties, but cannot avoid the need for additional revenue to cover our expenses.
IREA management is evaluating and discussing with the Board of Directors potential rate changes needed to cover our additional power and other increasing costs.
IREA has not increased rates generally since 2013, but anticipates that additional costs will have to be passed on to customers this year. More information will be forthcoming in February.