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Utilities Board mulls earlier closure of Drake Power Plant; 2 town halls set

Nov. 20, 2017
       The Colorado Springs Utilities Board will host two town hall meetings - one interactive and the other in-person - on a proposal to close the Martin Drake Power Plant in an earlier year than planned.
       - Interactive. Wednesday, Nov. 29 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Participants can enter comments on the phone or online. To sign up, go to
A Colorado Springs Utilities graphic imagines how the 66-acre Drake Power Plant site southeast of Cimarron Street and I-25 would look without Drake there.
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Utilities
csu.org, and click on the “Martin Drake Power Plant” link.
       - In-person: Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 107 N. Nevada Ave. #300.
       Located downtown, sitting on 66 city-owned acres southeast of Cimarron Street and I-25, Drake is a 185-megawatt, coal-fired plant that provides about a quarter of the community's power year-round, according to the Utilities website.
       Springs Utilities is a city-owned enterprise.
       The closure, which Utilities terms “decommissioning,” is currently scheduled to occur by the year 2035. That process started with the retirement of Drake's smallest and oldest unit at the end of 2016.
       The Utilities Board, consisting of the nine members of City Council, set the 2035 date two years ago, following a study costing about $500,000. However,
A Colorado Springs Utilities graphic illustrates how the site southeast of Cimarron Street and I-25 looks now, with the Drake Power Plant on it.
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Utilities
since then, the makeup of council has changed.
       A leader in the earlier-decomissioning effort is Council President Richard Skorman, who was elected last April. His District 3 takes in the southerly part of the Westside, including Old Colorado City.
       “We need to push to retire it [Drake],” he said in response to a Westside Pioneer question when he was a candidate, “and take down its footprint much sooner than 2035, particularly with the potential expense of new lawsuits.”
       A Utilities press release states that, “as community perspectives on this topic have evolved, Springs Utilities is now studying earlier-decommissioning alternatives, including replacement generation scenarios.”
       No dates are proposed in the Utilities press release or on its website, but a year as early as 2025 has been suggested by proponents of the change.
       The Utilities website does illustrate the scenarios, providing imagined views of the Drake site with nothing on it but a “historic building” and with generating facilities using natural gas and solar power instead of coal.
       One of the issues in decommissioning is that, according to Utilities information, the Utilities cost to buy coal is about two-thirds that of natural gas, half that of wind and a fifth that of solar power.
       The Utilities press release states that in considering an earlier decommissioning, the Utilities Board will weigh such factors as “rate impacts, utility uses for the Drake location and downtown revitalization plans. In addition, each scenario comes with its advantages such as potential site redevelopment and greater flexibility to meet the community's electric needs in the future.”

Westside Pioneer article
(Community: Ongoing Issues)

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