City Council prefers blinders over info?

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In this week's issue, I report on Colorado Springs Utilities' Electric Integrated Resource Plan (EIRP), which will soon set a course for our immediate energy future. 

We also received a letter to the editor this week which was too long to print, but very much relates to the EIRP process, from Old Town Bike Shop owner and outspoken eco advocate John Crandall

Here it is in full, under the subject heading "Utility Board discourages expanding knowledge."

On June 15th the Colorado Springs Utility Board met and one of the major subjects to be addressed was the impact of externalities, such as health care costs, that are affected by the burning of coal at the Martin Drake power plant. 7 citizens spoke in favor of requesting Colorado Springs Utilities to seek additional information related to these costs and including them in the forthcoming Electric Integrated Resource Plan, which a citizen group is diligently working on. No citizen spoke against expanding the knowledge base used to make the best long term decision for our community.

A portion of my 3 minutes was used to remind the board of the New York Academy of Sciences report on the health care costs of burning coal in the eastern US, which was 14.2 cents per kilowatt hour, which is greater than my total costs of 11.8 cents/Kwh. The cost here will be somewhat less than there but still significant. The board was also reminded that the $500,000 H.D.R. report that they requested and paid for indicated there are major environmental and health care costs directly attributed to the continuation of use the Martin Drake plant. The H.D. R. report indicated that when these costs are included, the most economical time to phase out Drake is around a 9 year time frame and presented several scenarios of how to get there. This is in total conflict with several board members who prefer to keep Drake running for decades.
John Crandall, of Old Town Bike Shop, regularly speaks out for the earth. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • John Crandall, of Old Town Bike Shop, regularly speaks out for the earth.


When the board was informally polled about encouraging the C.S.U. staff to seek more knowledge in order to assist them in making the best long term decision, this is what we got. Board members Gaebler, Strand and Murray spoke strongly in favor of seeking more information. Mr. Knight said in essence he really doesn't need to have more staff time spent because he will just know. Mr. Bennett said trying to look at externalities is like chasing butterflies and that is was very hard to get reliable data, even though 20 minutes earlier I had presented the board with hard information, as had other speakers. Many other studies are available to confirm this basic information. The comment was then made that all forms of energy production have environmental costs.

Agreed. The "no free lunch" rule is always in effect. I would be very willing to look at data comparing these costs for all forms of electric energy production as long as they came from an independent source and not any arm of the energy industry. Mr. Pico indicated maybe this can be looked at sometime in the future. This has been kicked down the road for many years. I suggest the future is now, and that we owe it to the forthcoming generations to become as informed as we can prior to this year's decision.

C.S.U. has many talented individuals who are very capable and would be willing to help the board make a comprehensive decision. The 7 of us who spoke were not asking the board to shut down Drake immediately or in the next few years. It was only a request to become more knowledgeable about the many facets which are involved in running a billion dollar a year company.

The poll results:
Increasing knowledge 3
Not increasing knowledge 6
Ideology won.

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