By Scott Hente, Colorado Springs City Council president

As a Colorado Springs Utilities residential and business customer, I understand the importance of reliable, affordable energy. As the chair of Utilities Board, it is, in part, my responsibility to ensure that we continue to meet these customer expectations.

Since 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been developing, and ultimately finalized in 2005, a Regional Haze Rule, which calls for state and federal agencies to work together to improve visibility in 156 national parks and wilderness areas such as Rocky Mountain National Park.

Under the rule, states were required to submit specific plans to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions, and Colorado was one of the first states to do so.

For the past seven years, Colorado Springs Utilities has proactively worked to address the Regional Haze Rule through a process developed with the input of EPA and the state of Colorado.

In early 2013, the utility will submit its own plan on how its power-generating facilities will meet the new mandates and ensure that emissions control equipment is installed and operating no later than 2017, per the Regional Haze Rule.

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That’s where Neumann System Group comes in.

Since 2007, Utilities Board members and Utilities staff have engaged with local entrepreneur and physicist Dr. David Neumann, who originally approached Colorado Springs Utilities with the concept of using innovative clean technology to reduce emissions.

The question of whether the technology works has created heated debate, but the answer, I know from my own involvement with the project, is yes.

For nearly five years, Utilities and Neumann Systems Group staff successfully completed three iterations of testing. Each stage of testing proved the NeuStream technology fully capable of removing 97 percent or more of sulfur dioxide emissions.

Third-party testing? Yes.

The Electric Power Research Institute, an independent nonprofit organization that performs research and development in the electricity industry, verified the results. In addition, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Air Quality Division followed progress on NeuStream for more than three years before allowing use of this alternative technology.

Not only does NeuStream help us meet important regulations with cleaner air, it achieves that goal at a fraction of the cost of traditional processes that have higher capital and operating costs.

The cost of implementing Neumann technology is significantly less than conventional scrubber technology. Just as important, these “older” forms of emissions control do not work as effectively and have a significantly larger footprint than the NeuStream technology.

I am confident that NeuStream is the right decision on scrubber technology for our community.

Scott Hente has been president of the Colorado Springs City Council and Utilities board of directors since 2011, and has served on Council representing the northwest side since 2003. He is also senior vice president and co-owner of Robert-Scott General Contractors Inc.