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Colorado ditches coal

Valmont rally picture

As part of a groundbreaking plan to reduce pollution from power plants, Colorado's Public Utilities Commission has decided to replace all coal-fired power plants in the Denver area. It's the first time a state has moved to shutter coal-burning plants to battle air pollution.

The commission approved the proposal Thursday afternoon, which was sparked by a law, passed with bipartisan support this year, that required the state to sharply cut its emissions. The plan is expected to cut nitrogen oxide emissions by 86%.

There will be a cost in replacing Xcel Energy's four coal-fired power plants. Ratepayers will see an increase of 2.4%, or about $1.40 a month, as the plants shift to natural gas. The coal industry has vowed legal action to block the change.

Environmental groups hailed the move as a milestone in the fight for cleaner energy. “We applaud the monumental, forward thinking action that the PUC has taken to ensure a clean and affordable energy future for Coloradans,” said the Sierra Club's Roger Singer. “We thank the commissioners and Xcel Energy for committing to retiring dirty coal, cleaning up our air quality and moving forward with cleaner energy options.”

-- Nicholas Riccardi

Photo: Activists rally outside one of the four coal-powered plants that will be converted. Credit: Nathaniel Janowitz / Sierra Club

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I live on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and we are in the process of fighting a coal mine here. The mine would be located about 3 miles from the ocean where we have a thriving shellfish industry which would be destroyed by the acid mine drainage. The proposed mine would be located right in the heart of our water shed. As if that wasn't terrible enough, the plan is to ship the coal through the downtown streets of Port Alberni, load it on massive Panamax freighters and send it to China. We are sickened by our provincial and federal governments who seem to support this project. Hearing good news stories like the one from Colorado gives us hope that there are some intelligent people out there making good decisions for their citizens. Just make sure your gas doesn't come from shale gas fracking, which will poison your water.

We have already reached peak oil. If the people around Denver switch to natural gas power and we reach peak gas in the near future, they are going to see quite a price spike in their power. North America has plenty of coal for near future. I guess they can do what they want.
The only good thing is, is that methane can be made from biological sources and from any carbon source, such as coal or biomass, through synthesis gas.

save the deserts; you speak the real truth solar on your own property is the answer cut out the fat cats,and fracking for so called clean gas is another uncertain nightmare.

Death, doom, despair? Lol, I never get tired of hearing the same stuff from people afraid of their own shadow. Good move, Colorado.

Wow, a really small cost increase for such a large reduction in pollution.

Advocates of "clean coal" are going to have to come up with a real way to use coal and keep the atmosphere clean.

Colorado is on the right track, but why so much gas? Oh, right, to retain the Big Energy oligarchy. Because CO is a super, super-sunny state and could easily produce all its daytime energy from rooftop solar alone (more than 50% of electricity is used between 1 PM and 7PM) and could immediately slash 50% of the gas usage, too.

When supported by the incredibly successful feed in tariff program, not only would there be tens of thousands more LOCAL, well-paid jobs, but property values will increase and PEOPLE will be paid for feeding more clean power into the grid than they consume. This means conservation and efficiency increases and ONE BIG ENERGY BOOT OFF OUR NECK.

We desperately need to clean, decentralize and democratize our grid. Every political persuasion has to agree that it's better for US to produce clean power and sell it than to have our taxpayer and ratepayer money - and our water and open spaces - wasted for more Big Energy profits!

Feed in tariffs, I'm telling you. Germany installed 2 GW of rooftop solar in June alone - they are killing it out there, and we are so arrogant, we actually believe that CA is leading something. pathetic.

States considering a switch to natural gas from coal beware. Colorado's plan to retire more that 900 megawatts of coal power and convert to gas will do more harm then raise electric rates a few dollars a month. The fact is this plan will cost ratepayers much more than $1 billion dollars. It forces ratepayers to cover the highly volitile gas prices and requires them to pay for the construction of the gas plants before any power is received from them. It threatens reliabilty with minimal environmental benefits. Advanced coal technologies can be installed much quicker, cheaper and provide clean air faster. Coal is not the only answer but we can't afford to legislate it from the mix. (Yes jobs will be lost!)

Political Correctness and blatant stupidity. Colorado doesn't have air pollution. The wind blows eastward to Kansas. Colorado better watch out or the liberals will infest it and bring it down just like they have in Kulyfornia.

no sense in burning coal in the usa just because it's cheap. ship it all to china, they are desperate for the stuff, and they don't care about the environment.

also we need to reduce our consumption of saudi arabian oil, so that china doesn't run out of oil it needs for its economy. they are using 1/2 of the exports from saudi arabia, and in a few years that will grow to 2/3, something like that.

it's funny how they rely on the USA to guarantee their supply lines for natural resources, but this is gradually changing as they build up their armed forces, especially their navy.

we get cheap manufactured goods in return. everyone wins.

$1.40 a month? Wow, where will the ratepayers skimp from to pay for that steep increase? One less cigarette, one less shot of espresso, one less mile in the car?

Wow, what a brutally painful cost for cleaner air.

Oh, oh, say it isn't so. Did they check with tea partiers and republicans? Be prepared when Sarah the plain gets a hold of this; the tea partiers, republicans will come down into Colorado like it was an "illegals" convention and then as Ms Plain would say:"Don't retreat, reload." I was convinced that Colorado was a cousin of Arizona, where racists roam free, where global warming is a four letter word, where death panels have their main headquarters, where KKK, red necks, trailer trash moved to be with their "peers." I would like to know what's going on. Are the tea partiers, republicans running out of steam? Or it is just a tactical maneuver, like the one Ms Plain loves to spew. Inquiring minds want to know.

Can't they just phase coal out over a few years instead of decimating the coal industry in Colorado? I think it's a good idea to ditch coal, but why do it in a way that hurts people who are making a living off of it? (I'm assuming here that this will hurt the coal industry, but the article didn't really say how it will affect them)

Policy-wise, Colorado is increasingly impressive.

Natural gas is good. Windmills are better. Solar panels even better. Fairy Dust, the best!


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