This is great news for Colorado Springs and the American West.
Colorado Springs Utilities so far has been reluctant to budge from a planned 2035 retirement date, even though the plant has been mired in legal controversy over clean air violations, faced intense and growing scrutiny from citizens and former City officials, and has been identified as one of the costliest municipally owned coal-fired power plants in the entire country.
The news comes as earlier this month, a federal judge signed off on an agreement between WildEarth Guardians and Colorado Springs Utilities resolving thousands of air quality violations at the power plant.
As part of our agreement, the City of Colorado Springs committed to vote by 2020 on whether to go 100% renewable. This vote will present a major opportunity to lock in the shut down of Martin Drake, but also to pave the way for shutting down Colorado Springs Utilities’ other coal-fired power plant, the Ray Nixon power plant.
Ray Nixon is a 200 megawatt power plant located south of Colorado Springs and like Martin Drake, is a clean air nightmare. Every year the plant releases thousands of tons of toxic air pollution, including particulate matter, sulfuric acid mist, mercury, and lead.
The truth is, coal costs. With renewable energy prices continuing to plummet and other Colorado utilities shifting quickly away from coal to more affordable wind and solar, Colorado Springs Utilities would be crazy not to go 100% renewable.
Hopefully this latest move to accelerate the retirement of Martin Drake is a sign that the City of Colorado Springs has finally seen the writing on the wall.