The Martin Drake power plant  in downtown Colorado Springs was listed among 353 coal-fired plants in the country that are “ripe for retirement” in a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists released today.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is a science-based nonprofit that started as a collaboration between students and faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1969, according to its website. While the report didn’t list the Sierra Club as a partner, members publicized its results Tuesday.

The report listed Martin Drake as a plant where two of its three generators are “ripe for retirement.” The two it lists were installed between 1962 and 1969. The criteria the report uses to judge plants “ripe for retirement” is that they are less economical to operate than existing natural gas-fired plants.

“Today’s report offers even more evidence of the economic drag the Martin Drake coal-fired power plant has on Colorado Springs and raises again the question of why Utilities is sinking more money into the plant,” Sierra Club organizer  Bryce Carter, said in a statement. The Sierra Club is considering suing Colorado Springs Utilities for what it says are violations of federal law in operating the power plant.

The report comes on the heels of the Colorado Springs Utilities Board’s decision to move forward both on installing Neumann Systems Group coal scrubber technology at the plant and to request a study on decommissioning Drake.


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  1. I’m concerned about our air quality and love that we’re having the conversation about how we might revitalize our downtown core as much as anyone, but really, were any non-coal-fired plants left off of this list or are all coal-fired plants in our country “ripe for retirement’?

  2. Colorado Springs Utilities’ goal is to provide the lowest cost, most reliable utility service while meeting or surpassing all environmental regulations. The future cost to generate electricity using coal versus natural gas was thoroughly studied in the 2012 Electric Integrated Resource Plan. The cost of natural gas generation is forecast to be nearly three times higher than coal by 2030. Even with the cost of current and expected emissions control requirements for coal plants included, electric generation from coal is expected to be less expensive than from natural gas.

    Other utilities in Colorado also see the value in retaining coal as part of their energy mix. For example, Xcel Colorado expects their fuel mix to be 47% coal, 29% natural gas, and 24% renewable after their “Clean Air-Clean Jobs” initiative is complete in 2018.

    Colorado Springs Utilities’ fuel capacity mix by comparison is 43% coal, 54% natural gas, and 3% hydro. Springs Utilities continues to pursue our Energy Vision which contains a goal of 20% renewables by 2020.

    Dave Grossman
    Colorado Springs Utilities

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