by Pam Zubeck
Emissions control technology developed by physicist David Neumann of Colorado Springs will be installed on the city's downtown Drake Power Plant , and a study of whether to decommission the coal-burning plant will wait until next year, the Utilities Board decided Wednesday.
On a 7-2 vote, with Councilors Brandy Williams and Angela Dougan dissenting, the board gave the green light to install NeuStream technology developed by Neumann to remove sulfur dioxide to meet Environmental Protection Agency emissions control regulations due to kick in within a few years. The city already had contracted with Neumann to design the installation on Drake and equip the plant, but those plans were about to go on hiatus after Mayor Steve Bach demanded the board study whether to get rid of Drake.
The study, which will be undertaken next year instead of this fall as previously planned, will delve into the cost and viability of replacing the 87-year-old Drake plant with another energy source. The board, comprised of City Council, also has been asked to conduct a study of what impact the removal of Drake will have on downtown vitality and economic development. The status of that study is unclear.
In recent days, Councilor Tim Leigh had raised a long list of questions about Neumann, even suggesting he was a con man with a gizmo that might not work, although outside reputable agencies had confirmed the technology was viable. After Neumann raised legal issues surrounding Leigh's remarks, Leigh met with Neumann and suddenly changed his tune.
Rob Fredell, a spokesman for Neumann Systems Group, has said in a statement previously:
Federal and state air quality regulations require CSU to install sulfur dioxide emissions control equipment at the Drake and Nixon Power Plants by 2017. While the CSU power plants meet all current air quality regulations, new standards are forcing better emissions controls, which will eliminate 95% or more of the sulfur dioxide currently coming from Drake and Nixon exhausts.
By using Neumann Systems Group’s advanced NeuStream® flue gas desulfurization systems, the cost will be about $200 million, while conventional emissions scrubbers would have cost at least a hundred million dollars more to install, and a similar increase in operating costs over the 30-year design life.