Xcel to close Hayden Station by 2028
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 5:45 p.m.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Xcel Energy will close the Hayden Station power plant — Unit 2 by the end of 2027 and Unit 1 in 2028 — as part of the company’s push to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2030, according to a draft press release from the energy company.
Xcel said in the release none of the 75 people employed by the plant will be laid off, rather the company and its partners will “manage the transition with attrition, retirement and retraining employees.”
The new move to close the plant by the end of 2028 is earlier than the previously anticipated 2030 and 2036 retirement dates for Unit 1 and Unit 2, respectively.
Hayden Town Manager Matthew Mendisco said the closure would have a “profound” impact on the community of Hayden and Routt and Moffat counties as a whole. In addition to direct jobs impacted, the Hayden Station is currently a significant source of property tax revenue for many service districts around Hayden and the county itself.
In Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, the coal mining and coal power industry supports nearly 2,900 jobs paying more than $228 million in labor income, according to a study from Colorado Mesa University. The industry represents more than a fifth of the gross domestic product in the three counties.
In Moffat County, where the study suggests the economic impacts of closing coal plants will be most severe, coal accounts for almost half of the local GDP and provides 20% of local jobs.
Xcel has shown a desire to remain in Northwest Colorado, potentially reinvesting into the Hayden Station, but what exactly that looks like is not yet clear. Details of future plans for the site could be included in Xcel’s energy resource plan that will go before state regulators in March.
“We are committed to supporting our employees and the region as we move forward with our clean energy transition in Colorado,” said Alice Jackson, president of Xcel Energy Colorado, in the statement. “Our top priority is funding new roles for our workers and supporting the communities that have served us so well.”
John Bristol, economic development director with the Steamboat Springs Chamber, said closing the plant will not only affect its 75 employees but many other indirect employees like subcontractors and suppliers.
“The biggest supplier to the Hayden Power Station is Peabody Twentymile Mine in South Routt, and we know that is a major component to the electric power generation ecosystem that exists here in Northwest Colorado,” Bristol said.
In 2019, Twentymile coal mine in Oak Creek employed 233 people and produced more than 2.5 million tons of coal, according to data from the state’s Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety.
“Directly employed is 75, but there is a much larger impact,” Bristol said. “There is a big ripple effect. This goes on to impact the entire county and the entire Yampa Valley.”
In a joint statement Monday, the Routt County Board of Commissioners said while the move is not surprising, it will be challenging to replace Hayden Station’s “good-paying jobs” and the tax revenue it generates. They also mentioned the impacts its closing will have on other coal-related businesses.
“We mourn the loss of a source of good-paying jobs for families in Routt County, but we are pleased that Xcel Energy is committed to a transition that will see no layoffs,” the commissioners’ statement reads.
The property tax revenue loss from the plant’s closing could prove to be substantial depending on Xcel’s plan for the area after 2028.
While the town of Hayden itself does not collect any property taxes from the power plant directly, all the local service districts, like the school and fire protection district, do receive direct sales tax revenue.
“From an income perspective, they will be the ones who will be most affected,” Mendisco said. “Our updated numbers range anywhere from 40% to 60% of revenue depending on the source and the district.”
He said Hayden has developed a really good relationship with Xcel in the past few years and has worked on a transition plan involving stakeholders from across Northwest Colorado. He said town leaders have been anticipating an early closure for a while and have addressed strategies to deal with it in Hayden’s economic plan.
“We all, as a valley, have to work together with Xcel as a partner to ensure that their transition is something that is long-term, hopefully provides a decent amount of property tax base for the future and provides decent jobs for those that are there,” Mendisco said.
“They see the value of the employees that live here, work here and how productive they are, the skill sets that they have, and I think they feel that they could make a reinvestment in some sort of another asset for that area,” Mendisco said.
What that asset is will depend on what works with Xcel’s electric plan, and Medisco said he anticipates to get those details in March. He said he is working with Xcel to host some community meetings in the coming weeks to discuss the future of the site.
Mendisco said the town of Hayden has expressed to the company a desire for a long-term investment that creates jobs and provides property tax revenue.
“Do we think they are going to replace all those jobs, maybe, maybe not,” he said. “We as a town and the county and all of our Northwest Colorado partners have to come together with Xcel to help transition that forward.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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