Colorado Springs-Eighteen coal-fired power plants closed down. As Colorado shifted its power supply system from fossil fuels to dozens of others.
According to data from the Federal Energy Information Administration, the latest closure of the large Martin Drake power plant in downtown Colorado Springs last week reduced the state’s share of electricity generated from burning coal to less than 36%. This is down from 68% ten years ago, although Colorado still lags behind the national share of 19%. The remaining coal-fired power plants in the state are scheduled to close in 2040.
Will Tour, director of the Colorado Energy Office, said: “If we can do this in the center of the west, in a state that used to be one of the most dependent on coal for power generation, every state in the country can do it too.”
Toor said that for electric vehicles and buildings for electric heating, the increasing reliance on alternatives to solar and wind energy is “available”.
The air in the front mountains of Colorado will no longer be polluted from the towering chimneys of Drake for nearly 100 years. According to data from state air quality control officials, this means a reduction of 201 tons of sulfur dioxide, 25 tons of particles that block the lungs, 257 tons of carbon monoxide, and 1,007 tons of nitrogen oxides that cause ozone smog.
National data show that Drake emits more than 1.3 million tons of pollutants each year, including carbon dioxide and a small amount of benzene, hydrogen chloride, sulfuric acid and chloroform.
Jill Hunsaker Ryan, director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said the shift from coal “will help improve air quality nearby and across the state.”
For decades, Drake has become one of the last urban industrial coal-fired power plants in the United States. Utilities operating in the city rely on burning up to 3,000 tons of coal a day to meet one-third of the local electricity demand. Currently, utility workers are focusing on subtle transitions. They will use portable natural gas generators for temporary power supply, as well as coal-fired power from the Ray Nixon Power Plant in the southeast of the city. The coal sector there is scheduled to close by 2029.
“The timing is right. The era of new energy solutions has arrived,” Mayor John Suthers announced at a ceremony with city leaders.
About 50 people work in the factory. 10 people left or retired, and 39 people found new positions at Colorado Springs Utilities, but the pay is not necessarily the same.
Demolition Drake will open about 50 acres of land along Fountain Creek in the center of Colorado Springs, where leaders built a beautiful American park, a new football field, and the Olympic Museum north of the factory.
The future use of the site depends on clearing, and then the restoration of the land and creek habitat. Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Aram Benyamin said that when the chimney collapsed, the contractor would inject 18 inches of bleach into the ground and feed the soil into the site.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state health officials, and community groups have been urging Colorado Springs leaders for years to reduce Drake’s pollution, especially sulfur dioxide. But the government agency never ordered the closure. In the end, both cost and environment played a role, as City Council members voted last year to close Drake before the original 2035 deadline.
Suthers said: “We know that new and stricter environmental regulations are about to be introduced,” but the “economic decision” closed. “It’s cheaper to go in the other direction.”