Springs Utilities' reliance on coal drops by 26 percent


Drake Power Plant: Not producing as much power from coal as it used to. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Drake Power Plant: Not producing as much power from coal as it used to.
In the latest Colorado Springs Utilities newsletter, "Connection," that's enclosed with ratepayers' bills, the city-owned enterprise notes its moving away from coal to natural gas.

"We're exploring new ways to power our future with renewable electric generation," it says. "We're depending more on clean-burning natural gas to support the energy and economic needs of our city."

Since Utilities has shutdown one unit at its downtown Drake Power Plant, it sounded plausible that more power is being generated with natural gas, which burns cleaner than goal from an air quality standpoint. But we wanted to know to what degree Utilities was making that shift. So we asked.

In 2010, Utilities generated nearly 3.2 million megawatt hours using coal, compared to 973,328 using natural gas.

By 2015, that split had changed dramatically, with the amount of energy generated with coal dropping by 17 percent and the amount of power generated with natural gas increasing by 64 percent.

Utilities provided data through the first half of 2016 only, but if we assume the usage rate continued apace that year, coal-generated power declined by 26 percent, to 2,366,728 megawatt hours, compared to 2010.

Natural gas, in the meantime, increased to 2.5 million megawatt hours in 2016, or an increase by a factor of 2.5.

For tips on how to save water and electricity, go to Utilities new site, changethecurrent.com

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