A Colorado jury on Wednesday ordered Xcel Energy to pay $26.45 million to CORE Electric Cooperative for extended shutdowns at the jointly-owned Comanche 3 coal plant located near the town of Pueblo. Xcel indicated it may appeal the judgment.
CORE, which serves more than 175,000 customers along Colorado’s Front Range, owns about a quarter of the 750-MW Comanche 3 plant. Xcel subsidiary Public Service Company of Colorado, or PSCo, operates the plant and owns a majority share.
CORE’s filed its complaint in 2021 and sought approximately $250 million, including a buyout of its share of Comanche 3.
“Because of PSCo’s failures, the facility has been plagued with outages and is out of service, on average, more than 91 days per year — the worst reliability record of any of PSCo’s generation facilities,” CORE told the court. And PSCo “permanently damaged” the generator by “imprudently operating” the plant, the cooperative said.
The district court jury agreed with CORE’s breach of contract and mismanagement claims, the cooperative said.
“This verdict will at least partly compensate CORE for damages caused by the systemic failures of Xcel to prudently operate Comanche 3,” CORE CEO Jeff Baudier said in a statement. “We look forward to moving on from this lawsuit as the next step in our independent power future.”
In January, CORE signed a 20-year power supply agreement with Invenergy which includes more than 1.2 TWh of renewable energy per year, beginning in 2026.
Xcel said in a statement that it intends to file post-trial briefs with the court “asking it to correct some significant errors of law that impacted the trial and, if necessary, appeal.”
The jury “largely rejected” CORE’s claims, Xcel said.
According to Xcel, CORE “began looking for a way to recoup its investment” in Comanche 3 after Colorado began developing more stringent clean energy goals. “We tried to work with CORE to navigate these policy changes, but they decided to pursue this lawsuit instead,” Xcel said.
Colorado has targeted 100% renewable energy by 2040, and in September Xcel filed a proposal to double the amount of renewable resources on its system
CORE may also file post-trial motions, the cooperative told The Colorado Sun. The decision “did not fully recognize the relief to which CORE is entitled,” it said.