The Utilities Policy Advisory Committee voted to recommend closing the coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant by 2023 and replacing it with aeroderivative gas turbines.
The committee has spent the past year working on a blueprint for Colorado Springs Utilities’ path forward. In addition to retiring Drake by 2023, the plan selected by UPAC also includes retiring the Ray Nixon Power Plant’s coal-fired unit by 2030.
A comprehensive analysis found the portfolio, if approved by the Utilities Board, would have a minimal impact on customers’ rates. It would also reduce the utility’s carbon emissions 80 percent by 2030.
Clean-air advocates, however, cautioned against embracing natural gas over renewable energy like wind and solar — though the fuel produces about half the carbon dioxide emissions of coal. The chosen portfolio would “require ratepayers to fund new fracked gas infrastructure, despite how quickly renewables are outpricing gas,” Sumer Shaikh, a spokesperson for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, said in a statement.