APPA News

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
Posted June 26, 2020

The board of Colorado Springs Utilities on June 26 signed off on a plan under which the public power utility will decommission its coal plants by 2030, expand renewable energy and storage and reduce its carbon emissions by 80% by 2030.

The plan calls for grid modernization, integration of more cost-effective renewable energy and incorporation of new technologies like energy storage. Noncarbon resources such as wind and energy storage will replace the generation from the utility’s last coal-fired plant, the Ray Nixon Power Plant, which will be decommissioned no later than 2030.

To enable the decommissioning of the Martin Drake Power Plant no later than 2023, temporary natural gas generators will be placed at the site to ensure system reliability, Colorado Springs Utilities said. Once new transmission projects are complete in the coming years, generation will no longer be needed in downtown Colorado Springs and these units will be relocated.

The plan is aligned with the utility’s Energy Vision, Colorado Springs Utilities noted.

“My goal from this planning process was to develop an energy future that provides the most value to our customers; one that is resilient, reliable, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable,” said Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Aram Benyamin. “Today’s decision sets the stage for a brighter, sustainable future for generations to come.”

Colorado Springs Utilities said that through the utility’s sustainable energy plan, it will:

* Commit to its community with industry-leading reliability and resiliency and support the economic growth of the region;
* Benefit customers by maintaining competitive and affordable rates and advance energy efficiency;
* Reduce carbon emissions at least 80% by 2030 and 90% by 2050;
* Increase renewable energy and incorporate storage resources;
* Decommission all coal generation by 2030 and reduce reliance on fossil fuels; and
* Integrate new technologies responsibly by modernizing its grid and partner with its customers to create distributed energy resources throughout the community.

Benyamin said that the growth of the utility’s energy efficiency programs will be key to success. The utility’s customers are motivated to change the way they use energy in their homes and businesses as determined through public input and surveys, Colorado Springs Utilities noted.

A skilled workforce will be required for this energy transformation, Benyamin said. “As we look to the future, training opportunities will be available and transition plans will provide employees new and exciting opportunities. That is a benefit of a four-service, community-owned utility,” he said.

Colorado Springs Utilities said that the plan was largely delivered by utility employees who built comprehensive financial and technical analyses and took into consideration public input, growth forecasts for the city and future environmental regulations.