In 2020, the raft of bills passed by Colorado legislators the previous year began altering the state’s energy story. Then, the markets and economy were ravaged by the effects of COVID-19. 2021 will be a fascinating year in the Colorado energy sphere. Here are the stories to keep an eye on for the coming year:
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.