Colorado To Phase Out Coal Plants In Denver Area
The Sierra Club and its allies celebrated on December 9 when the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a plan by Xcel Energy, the state's largest utility, to retire seven coal-burning power plants by 2017. The plan will phase out all coal plants in the Denver area.
The seven plants, which between them generate more than 900 megawatts of coal-fired electricity, will be retired starting in 2011 and replaced by natural gas energy, which is cleaner than coal and flexible enough to allow easy incorporation of renewable energy into the mix.
The plan puts into action the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act, passed by voters this March, that charged Xcel and the PUC with forging a comprehensive, cost-effective strategy get out in front of anticipated federal clean air and greenhouse gas regulations.
"What happened in Colorado will will establish a clear pathway for other states and progressive utilities to move from coal to cleaner, healthier energy sources, even as Washington, D.C., sits paralyzed," says Sierra Club organizer Roger Singer, below.
"All this work created momentum for passage of the Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act and set the stage for today's action by the PUC," Singer says. "In recent weeks, when Xcel seemed focused on keeping the 352-megawatt Cherokee 4 unit operational as a coal plant, the Club's online organizing team nimbly mobilized 750 emails and letters to the PUC in opposition."
The Club was part of a broad coalition of environmental and public health groups and clean-tech industries fighting to move Colorado beyond coal. "This was a coalition victory through and through," says Singer, "and today was the culmination of a year of amazing work."