COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) has announced the closure of the Drake Power Plant.
The plant will be fully shut down on Thursday, September 1.
CSU says that it has been a year since the plant burned coal. Since last August, the two remaining generating units inside the Drake Power Plant ran on natural gas and served as peak load units, and only ran as needed.
“I am extremely grateful to our employees, both past and present, who helped the Drake Power Plant operate as a fixture of reliability and efficiency for nearly 100 years, and who have helped us reach this vital milestone,” said Aram Benyamin, Chief Executive Officer for Springs Utilities."
The next steps in fully removing the Drake Power Plant structure include the selection of a contractor to oversee the physical breakdown and removal of the plant’s internal equipment, stacks, and exterior facade. This process is expected to take approximately three years.
“For nearly a century, the Martin Drake Power Plant has served a vital function in Colorado Springs,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. “Today’s milestone is bittersweet because it marks the end of an era. Our city will move forward with cleaner, but still reliable and affordable forms of energy and our enhanced downtown skyline will help us continue to be a city that matches our beautiful scenery.”
The decommissioning of the Drake Power Plant is a key component of Colorado Springs Utilities’ Sustainable Energy Plan, adopted by the Utilities Board in June 2020. The adoption came only after an 18-month public process to obtain customer and community input, and an assessment of a growing regulatory landscape that includes aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to move away from fossil fuels, according to CSU.
“This exciting development started with the Board’s decision two years ago,” said City Council member and Utilities Board Chair Wayne Williams. “After extensive public process and an in-depth study by the citizens on our Utilities Policy Advisory Committee, we chose to close the inefficient, 97-year-old Drake Power Plant. Our replacement electric power production is more resilient, less costly, and more environmentally friendly. Waiting for the state or federal government to dictate our path forward was never an option. Not only was the retirement of this aging coal-fired power plant the right decision from an environmental and financial perspective, it also creates options for enhancing our community’s economic vitality.”
By early 2024, Colorado Springs Utilities plans to add the 175 MW Pike Solar project to its system. When built, it will be the largest solar facility in the system.
Additionally, by 2024, Colorado Springs Utilities will add up to 100 MW of battery storage – the first of its kind on the electric system. Battery storage can increase grid resiliency and flexibility as new resources are added to the organization’s energy portfolio.
After adding Pike Solar to the existing solar, wind, and hydro resources, renewable energy is estimated to represent 27% of Colorado Springs Utilities’ energy portfolio says CSU.