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LETTER: Why speed up Drake Power Plant decommissioning?

       Editor's note: The following letter references the September 2017 guest column by Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte, which can be found on the Westside Pioneer website at this link.

       At the November 2015 Colorado Springs Utilities Board meeting, the board [which consists of City Council members] approved a portfolio of producing assets based on the Electric Integrated Resource Plan. This included the Drake Power Plant, with a decommissioning of no later than December 31, 2035.
       In January 2016, the board approved decommissioning Drake Unit 5, which has occurred. In June 2017 the performance of new $200 million sulfur dioxide scrubbers was reported as exceeding targets. In May of this year the new Utilities Board requested a new Drake planning project to examine possible early decommissioning of the Drake Units 6 and 7.
       I've been following the Drake decommissioning presentations at the board meetings and have three questions that should be part of the early communications with ratepayers.
       1 - What is the competitive economic life of Drake?
       Colorado Springs requires money for stormwater infrastructure, road repair, police and a number of other projects that have a higher priority than replacing Drake as long as it is economically competitive.
       2 - What are the competitive options that can replace Drake Units 6 and 7 at a lower cost? Reducing costs and ratepayers bills should always be the goal of the Utilities Board. I haven't heard this mentioned at the meetings.
       3 - What portfolio of assets will provide the lowest cost and most reliable power for Colorado Springs Utilities customers? Meeting Environmental Protection Agency requirements is a given.
       Isn't that what the 2016 Electric Integrated Resource Plan called for? What has changed?

       Dick Standaert

(Posted 9/29/17; Opinion: Letters)

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