Colorado Springs moving away from coal, fossil fuels for city energy needs

City closing two coal-fired plants and replacing with natural gas as bridge to renewables

The coal-fired Martin Drake power plant is set to be decommissioned by 2023. (Photo courtesy of Colorado Springs Utilities)

Colorado Springs significantly moved up the goal to decommission the Martin Drake coal plant downtown from 2035 to 2023 and is aiming to reduce the city’s carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2030 and by 90 percent by 2050. 

The full plan to overhaul the plant tops $1 billion in budget and will involve using natural gas to bridge the gap to more renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, as well as upgrading the city’s electrical grid. The Ray Nixon plant, located about 20 miles south in Fountain, will also be decommissioned by 2030. Martin Drake and the Ray Nixon plant generate 416 megawatts of coal-fired power per year for Colorado Springs. The important set of decisions was not made in a vacuum.

Clean Energy Solutions Summit addresses today’s energy challenges

The Colorado Solar & Storage Association (COSSA) will hold a unique virtual event focused on solving industry professionals’ problems on Tuesday, Nov. 17. 

The Clean Energy Solutions Summit is billed as the “Mountain West’s premier event for municipal, commercial and nonprofit energy management and sustainability leaders and decision-makers” to brainstorm about practical solutions to sustainable energy challenges, according to COSSA’s event website. The summit is designed to pair the problems and challenges with sustainability experts with a wide cross-section of expertise from across the industry. The agenda for the day-long virtual event includes a keynote address from Google’s Briana Kobor and three, one-hour breakout sessions.Kobor serves as Google’s Western lead for Energy Markets and Development and will speak on Google’s goal to run their data centers on carbon-free energy by 2030, according to COSSA’s marketing materials. 

COSSA is searching for both sides of their problem-solving equation: the experts and the challenges in need of solutions. According to the event website, anyone with ideas about the following problems should seriously consider attending the summit:

How can a Fortune 500 company de-carbonize its supply chain with minimal additional expense?How can an indoor agricultural facility lower its energy bills?How can a wastewater treatment plant achieve reliability 24/7/365?How can an oil and gas company electrify multiple disparate facilities?How can a mountain town lower the carbon footprint of the natural gas turbines used to heat the sidewalks?How can a large industrial company capture or compensate for the carbon their processes produce?How should a logistics company provide resilient backup for its electrified delivery fleet? General admission for The Clean Energy Solutions Summit is $199 for COSSA members or $249 for non-members until Friday, Nov. 6, when ticket prices rise to $249 for members and $299 for non-members.One important note, however: if you are part of an organization with a pressing energy problem that needs solving, you can attend the summit for free!