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.

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.