Pueblo Coal Plant Okayed

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The Public Utilities Commission has approved Colorado's first new coal-fired power plant in 23 years. On Friday the PUC approved plans for the plant, despite questions over a settlement that critics said could cost consumers more in the long run.

The agreement on the proposed new unit at Pueblo's Comanche Generating Station requires Xcel Energy to upgrade pollution-control equipment at the two existing units. The new $1.35 billion plant will generate 750 megawatts. That's enough electricity for 750,000 customers on a given day.

The commission voted two-to-one to approve the negotiated settlement without changes. If an air quality permit is approved next year by state health officials, construction on the plant could begin in 2006.