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Closing Drake, Council and eminent domain, C4C, and more

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Editor, 235 S. Nevada Ave., CS, CO 80903 • email: letters@csindy.com

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Not-so-subtle message

Two years ago, Colorado Springs lost 346 homes to the Waldo Canyon Fire; the next year, we lost 500-plus homes in Black Forest. With global warming, these were no doubt portents of cataclysms to follow.

By coincidence, city leaders were equivocating about reinvesting in a coal-fired power plant in the center of town. Imagine if the wildfires had prompted us to announce closing the Drake plant to reduce the burning of fossil fuels! Instead the Utilities board laid out options to sustain Drake, with only a token investment in renewable energy.

This year brought a third fire. The culprit is of course conjecture on my part, and a local favorite. Seeing two previous acts unheeded, I think God surprised everyone with a fire where we were sure to get the point: at Drake itself.

It's probably going to take millions of dollars to bring Drake back online. Hey! Let's close it! Let's spend that money on a solar array or a wind farm! Both resources of which we have a celebrated plentitude.

The collective decision to act on climate change begins at home if you have a publicly owned coal-fired power plant. Communities across the world have stopped burning coal.

Drake didn't just spew carbon, its emissions included toxins which we were forced to breathe. I've spoken with doctors who attribute heart disease and asthma to Drake. The coal ash accumulating south of town is another threat. The recent ash spill in North Carolina serves as a warning.

Even if we reinvest in Drake, we have several months of clean air to think more clearly. This summer America the Beautiful Park will be the healthiest it's been. Shouldn't we put our money into renewable, sustainable, healthy energy?

If it takes an act of God to close Drake, so be it.

— Eric Verlo

Colorado Springs

Dangerous Drake?

The January 2014 Colorado Springs Utilities Connection newsletter misrepresented the conclusions of the Drake decommissioning study. Last week's Drake fire raises the issue of these aging units being a concern! Perhaps a danger?

It repeated twice (once in bold): "The preliminary modeling results indicate that the least-cost option is continued operation of Drake for 30 years."

This was misleading to say the least, since the actual study (which they provided the information to read in the same article) states, "Our key study conclusions are:

"The results indicate that within the context of the cost and operational assumptions provided by CSU, the Financial Return on Investment (FROI) improves the longer Drake continues to run. The 30 year option is the lowest net financial cost alternative studied. However, to assume that the Drake Power Plant can continue to operate in this condition for such an extended period of time is not considered feasible or viable [emphasis added] and would be considered exceptional relative to the history of operating coal units in the US. Further the continued high load factor assumed for the Base Case, which extends base load operation of the Drake units for another 20 years is also not consistent with the historic operating coal-fleet. When considering the non-financial impacts and costs associated with CSU and Drake operations associated with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and criteria air contaminant (CAC) emissions the Sustainable Return on Investment (SROI) improves the sooner Drake is retired ..." (See page 96 of study.)

— Bonnie Ann Smith

Colorado Springs

Imagined 'problems'

Dear City Council: I have lived in this city for 53 years. In that time I have been active in many facets of this city, including serving six years on the City Council, several years on the Urban Renewal Board, and much more. I can assure you that this city has never or rarely used eminent domain as a way to acquire land. In fact, it has been quite the opposite.

While I was on City Council, we acquired land for several major projects, including water diversion projects, and never utilized eminent domain to acquire it. There were significant outlying pieces of land in the backdrop of Garden of the Gods that owners were not willing to sell. We could have used that right to acquire it but we did not. They were later acquired as owners moved and decided to sell. These are only two instances when eminent domain was not utilized.

Even to this day the city does not use eminent domain or condemnation much at all, even when it makes sense to do so. We have many blighted properties throughout the city that are detriments to their neighborhoods — victims of total neglect by their owners that should be either cleaned up and taken care of or torn down. This city is very judicious when it comes to rights of owners, and there is no reason to change existing eminent domain laws in this city.

I urge the Council to stop creating imagined "problems" that don't exist and start to concentrate on the things that will make this city a better place. We have much to lose if we don't start working on the things that are important to the future of our city.

— Kathy Loo

Colorado Springs

Assessing C4C

Regarding "Getting the 411 on C4C" (News, May 7), let's get down in the weeds and ask a few questions that are needed.

Question 2: "Will City for Champions help the local economy?" Using the figures supplied, the answer would be "No!" Take the average of $41,200 and wash out the six-figure incomes for the few, and that figure will drop. It will probably be closer to the Broadmoor World Arena figure of $6,900 per job. And what would be the hourly rate and duration of the job? One would assume that most of these part-time jobs will be dependent on the number of events.

If a nonprofit is established to run the facility, will that include building the facility? No tax revenue there if the nonprofit will be handling the entire project, and what this town needs is another nonprofit. The same for UCCS, Olympic museum and the AFA visitor center facilities.

Question 5, in regard to there being unknowns about the stadium: "Such as?" Let's assume most events take place on weekends: 469 events divided by 104 weekend days equals 4.5 events per day. Will the facility have the capacity to handle 4.5 events per day?

Figuring setup time and breakdown time, these events would be just a few hours each. How many of these events would be moved over from the World Arena and Pikes Peak Center, and will this increase the deficit that these existing venues are currently running? Which one would be the bigger loser? Will competition between the nonprofits lead to the shutdown of one or more of the current facilities?

Going on the come is not a viable business plan, and these business "leaders" should know better.

— Gary Casimir

Colorado Springs

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