UPDATE: Downtown Partnership calls for Drake timeline

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As many a parody organization has proven, often the fake news is much better than the real news. Or at least more entertaining.

So it is that area media outlets were emailed two fake news releases this morning from an email handle of ColoSpringsGoodNews, with the subject lines "BREAKING: City Council To Vote for Near-Term Decommissioning of Martin Drake Coal Plant" and "Inside Scoop: City Councilors Weigh in on Pending Decommissioning of Martin Drake Coal Plant."

From earlier correspondence, we know that the actual person behind the stunt is Leslie Weise, a local consultant with an environmental law and natural resource Master of Law degree, among other achievements. In this Gazette piece from last year, she's cited as an environmental activist. 

For your reading pleasure — again bear in mind this is all satire, ye of litigious leanings — here are both releases in all of their comedic glory:

BREAKING: City Council To Vote for Near-Term Decommissioning of Martin Drake Coal Plant

Despite threats of lost campaign support from the coal lobby, Council licks their can-kicking habit in a vote to end wasteful spending and protect public health!

Despite threats of losing campaign support from coal lobbyists such as the Rocky Mountain Coal & Mining Institute, the Colorado Springs City Council, which doubles as the Utility Board, will vote on Wednesday to shutter the Martin Drake Coal plant for good. While not immediate, the Utility Board issued a statement that they would set in motion a plan to close the plant within four years, by far faster than any timeline envisioned by the Electric Integrated Resource Plan (EIRP) presented to the Board in October.

As some Utility Board members had previously stated they wanted “to operate Drake and burn coal forever or until the walls fall down, whichever turns out to be the later date,” this seeming reversal came as a surprise to many. When asked about his vote, Council member Keith King remarked, “As this is my final term in office, I’m finally going to stand up for what I know is best for my grandchildren and this community. I won’t let this dirty industry buy my opinion ever again.”

The announcement was met with surprise and jubilation by local community leaders. The Board of the Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC) issued a statement thanking the Utility Board for its forward thinking and making a commitment to improve the health & economic vitality of the city. TOSC has already announced major plans to move forward with trail-ways linking Colorado Springs with nearby Monument and Pueblo.

“Our city will become more beautiful and healthy once Drake is removed from the skyline. This will attract many more people interested in visiting and traveling to our city. Coupled with recreational water areas between the Springs and Pueblo, these major trail renovations will make our town a destination for serious outdoor lovers like never before,” said executive director of TOSC Ona Beacickle. “We’ve been waiting for our city leadership to indicate they were ready to make a serious commitment to our community before moving forward with these plans. Now that Drake will be closed within four years, we’re able to set our plans in motion.”

The biggest praise for the Utility Board decision came from the American Lung Association and CEO of Penrose Hospital. Having for years decried the hundreds of hospitalizations, asthma attacks, and locally high rates of infant mortality correlated with toxins spewed by the Martin Drake plant only to have these harmful impacts ignored by the Utility Board, ALA and Penrose had all but given up hope of improving air quality for public health. With the pending Utility Board decision to close Drake, however, Penrose CEO Claire L’ovre said, “The Utility Board of Colorado Springs has made a decision today that will save lives. Because of this decision, 165 fewer children will visit the Emergency Room when Drake is closed, and that’s only the beginning. I could not be more proud of these city leaders who have the wisdom and courage to plan for and protect the health of this community.”

Even Colorado Springs Utilities staff, who had not originally proposed that the Drake plant be decommissioned, seemed relieved that they had clear direction from their governing body. “While the transition will take a lot of work, ultimately we will have more stable and lower rates for our customers,” said Jerry Forte, CEO of CSU.

“The rising costs of removing dangerous pollutants from coal by-products have already increased rates 12% over the past eight years, and we are not even finished with construction yet! Rates from relying on coal will surely continue to skyrocket as we attempt to remove other toxins from our air such as nitrous oxides and mercury. I am glad we will instead invest our resources into clean technology that meets our needs without all of the wasteful spending,” Forte continued.

When asked how the Utility Board decision would impact his business, Seymore Dollerz, president of the Broadmoor, stated that he has plans for a celebratory gala already underway. “As multiple models have shown most of the Drake toxins hang out right on our properties, we are hugely relieved to know that our lungs will soon be protected.”

Regional Business Alliance members and the Downtown Partnership expressed their gratitude toward the Utility Board with the tone of, ‘Well, it’s about time.’ They were cautiously optimistic that the southern end of downtown could finally become more than an industrial park once Drake’s doors are finally closed. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” remarked Quay Ping Peese, CEO of the Downtown Partnership, “I’ve had my hopes dashed before.”

To witness this historic vote that will enable the proverbial smokestacks to be torn down, you can attend the public session for Utilities Board, conveniently scheduled for when most people are not able to attend due to work commitments, at 3pm November 18th, on the fifth floor of the South Tower in the Plaza of the Rockies (121 S. Tejon Street). If you can’t make it, consider sending an email note to thank your Council members who have at long last acted so responsibly, at AllCouncil@springsgov.com.

Sadly, this release was written out of frustration yet hope for change, and is deemed proper for publication through its satire distinction from the truth, which is protected free speech under the fair use doctrine of copyright law. Reproduce this article to your heart’s content! And most importantly, get involved by attending tomorrow’s meeting and make your voice heard in support of Martin Drake’s retirement ASAP!

Inside Scoop: City Councilors Weigh in on Pending Decommissioning of Martin Drake Coal Plant

Council’s Decision Puts An End To Its Usual Endorsement of Wasteful Spending and Ensures Community Will Finally Cease Breathing Toxins!

In an abrupt turn of events, it has been learned that the City Council, which doubles as the Utilities Board for the Colorado Springs Utilities, will tomorrow hold a unanimous vote to select an energy portfolio that includes an immediate decommissioning of the Martin Drake Coal Plant. It had been anticipated that the Board would simply rubber stamp the recommendation by Utilities Management that would have kept Drake operating indefinitely, or as Utilities Board member Don Knight has stated his gleeful wish on numerous prior occasions, “to operate Drake and burn coal forever or until the walls fall down, whichever turns out to be the later date.”

Instead, the Board recently decided to meet secretly without Management present, as Board co-chair Jill Gaebler said they determined would be useful to do to avoid the “passive aggressive role playing of Utilities CEO Jerome Forte and insidious stare of Utilities Manager John Romero.” Merv Bennett concurred that by secretly getting away they were finally free to come to the realization that they were fed up with their “pansy role of cheerleader for those lazy bums in management”.

Larry Bagley agreed that this private meeting was quite useful to achieve clarity on their “reckless attitudes and decisions” that have, until now, been the Council’s standard operating procedure about the highly polluting Martin Drake plant. He revealed that meditation sessions helped each member have uninhibited reflection of their irresponsible past, that he promised was forever behind them.

Tom Strand said the revelation has led them to “feel compelled to stop enabling otherwise unnecessary hospital trips for dozens of elderly people each year, hundreds of extra asthma attacks by kids, and a few premature grave stops for folks, caused by the thousands of tons of toxic pollution this downtown plant spews upon us.”

While holding Keith King’s hand in solidarity, Bill Murray said, “it’s like an LED light bulb turned on in each of our detoxified brains that we all needed to begin taking our roles as custodians of the health of our community like responsible leaders should,” and King added that “closing that nasty, filthy unsafe plant seemed like a good place to start.”

Numerous signs in the past few years had led reasonable people to hope this decision might come soon, including a major fire at Drake last year that caused 1 of its 3 generators to be turned off for an entire year, and the full plant to be down for 3 months. When asked whether the Fire Chief’s comment on the day of the fire that the community “was lucky there wasn’t an explosion” had anything to do with the Council’s change of heart, Utilities Board Chair Andres Pico replied in a peaceful demeanor while sitting in lotus position, “Huh? What fire? Oh yes, it’s true they do burn coal, lovely coal, there every day.”

The prior year, Utilities Board and Management agreed to pay a professional firm, HDR Engineering, a half million dollars to study when was the most ideal time to shut down this 90 year old eyesore that regularly belches toxins directly onto our community of about half million people. When the HDR firm determined a short term retirement of the plant was the responsible action to plan for given its unsafe downtown location, its proclivity to send on average 165 people to the hospital each year, the plant’s near centennial age approaching that of the fossils-turned-carbon (i.e. coal) it burns to generate energy, the Utilities Board had previously found it just too convenient to ignore it all.

Board member Helen Collins, typically known to the community for her distaste for wasteful government spending, stated her reason for previously complicitly ignoring the HDR Study with her fellow Council members was, “too many facts to contend with.” However, she now acknowledges that the HDR team of professionals possessed decades of experience and education in the relevant sciences that should no longer be ignored, with making clear the caveat for her about-face on this issue was because the study was funded by ratepayers, and specifically not from taxpayer funds, and that was a distinct difference to her that allowed her to now embrace “all that sciency data stuff.”

Whatever the reasoning, community members are thrilled with the decision. After all, last year’s Drake Decommissioning Task Force led by the Utilities Board showed over 2 to 1 public support for a near term retirement of Drake. When asked why it took over a year for the Board to pay attention to those survey results, as well as the numerous surveys Utilities itself has conducted that consistently showed a majority of residents are willing to pay a little more for their electricity to support less polluting sources of energy such as renewable energy and energy efficiency investments, Council member King stated with genuine surprise, “oh, were we supposed to care?”

To witness this historic vote that will enable the proverbial smokestacks to be torn down, you can attend the public session for Utilities Board, conveniently scheduled for when most people are not able to attend due to work commitments, at 3pm November 18th, on the fifth floor of the South Tower in the Plaza of the Rockies (121 S. Tejon Street). If you can’t make it, consider sending an email note to thank your Council members who have at long last acted so responsibly, at AllCouncil@springsgov.com.

Sadly, this release was written out of frustration yet hope for change, and is deemed proper for publication through its satire/parody distinction from the truth, which is protected free speech under the fair use doctrine of copyright law. Reproduce this article to your heart’s content! And most importantly, get involved by attending tomorrow’s meeting and make your voice heard in support of Martin Drake’s retirement ASAP!

—— ORIGINAL POST, 9:13 A.M., TUESDAY, NOV. 17 ——

Since July, we've been tracking the progress of Colorado Springs UtilitiesElectric Integrated Resource Plan (EIRP), which has put several energy-portfolio options before its Board (City Council) for a decision on our future energy strategy. 

One proponent of portfolio H's playful protest sign at a recent CSU hearing on the EIRP process. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • One proponent of portfolio H's playful protest sign at a recent CSU hearing on the EIRP process.
Recent meetings with CSU's citizen Customer Advisory Group have highlighted much dissent for the choice of portfolio D, which CSU project manager Katie Hardman called "balanced, support[ing] the community's desire for more renewable energy and DSM" while also controlling costs and minimizing risk, as well being "cost-competitive with and without the Clean Power Plan."

Hardman and CSU reps have pointed out that D "can also transition easily to Portfolio H, which has a phased decommissioning of the Drake Power Plant by 2029."

But local environmentalists and some business figures have pushed for a more committal move to H now, setting a more decisive course toward Drake's demise. 

Ahead of this Wednesday's board meeting, during which a decision on the EIRP is expected around 3 p.m., the Downtown Partnership has  come out with a statement urging the board to "set a date for Drake" in support of portfolio H

You may read DP's statement in full here

Here's an excerpt:

We have kicked this can down the road long enough, and failure to put a stake in the ground for decommissioning of the Martin Drake Power Plant continues to position Colorado Springs at the back of the pack among cities competing for jobs and business.

We appreciate the efforts of Utilities staff and the volunteer Customer Advisory Group in their scenario planning that has narrowed the current focus to Portfolios D and H. However, this process was short-sighted in one regard by failing to monetize the intangible considerations in decommissioning Drake, as well as limited weighting of those intangibles at just 10 percent.

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