Wyoming seeks to stall Colorado’s exit from coal-generated electricity

In 2009, Wyoming was riding high on coal. It supplied the coal that provided roughly half the nation’s power generation. The trains out of the Powder River Basin were almost non-stop, delivering the sub-bituminous low-sulphur coal from Wyoming’s subterranean to plants as far as Florida. The Sierra Club had mounted a campaign in which it made fun of coal as a “dirty fuel.” One striking video had a lively young couple in the upper bunk delighting in the company of one another, and in the lower bunk a more pudgy young man fondling lumps of coal. Still, when this author visited Gillette, the center of the Powder River Basin, in April 2009 for a story published in Planning magazine, no evidence of great worry was evident.

Senate Bill 72 met with mixed reviews

Some Colorado legislators hope to bring strength in numbers to give Colorado an energy boost. The plan is to do so by creating a means to build a network of electrical transmission lines throughout the state. Proponents say this would ensure electrical transmission reliability with the flexibility of linking to neighboring state’s grids.   

But it’s been met so far with mixed reviews. The state’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, stands firmly against it as a solution looking for a problem, while smaller utilities see it as a way to keep promises of affordably transmitting renewable power to meet consumer expectations. 

Sens. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Don Coram, R-Montrose, are backing Senate Bill 72, which would create the Colorado Electric Transmission Authority (CETA), and require state utilities to join a regional transmission organization that would tie utilities to a regional transmission system.