Skico opposing proposed coal plant in Pueblo
PUEBLO – The Aspen Skiing Co. is making its mark this fall on the renewable energy scene.In addition to the company’s endorsement of Amendment 37 (see story on page A6), it has come out in opposition to a proposed coal-fired power plant near Pueblo.Xcel Energy is hoping the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will approve the 750-megawatt Comanche Unit 3 plant as part of the utility’s plans to accommodate the state’s energy demands for the next decade.”If we want the ski industry to stay viable for the next 100 or 200 years, we need to switch away from carbon fuels, and there’s no time better than the present to do that,” said Auden Schendler, Skico’s director of environmental affairs.The resort company’s senior vice president, David Bellack, urged the PUC to “exhaust all opportunities for efficiency and renewable energy before approving any new coal-fired power plants.”Intrawest and Vail Resorts have not taken a position on the issue.”It’s unlikely we will take an official position on this particular plant, but we believe coal-fired energy production is not the preferred environmental alternative,” said Vail spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga. “But we are strongly supportive of seeking alternative energy for the state, which is why we support [Amendment 37].”Xcel officials say that the $1.3 billion plant is necessary to provide reliable, around-the-clock “base-load” energy for Colorado customers, and that wind power is more realistic as a source of extra energy during peak demand.”Wind is efficient 30 percent of the time,” said Xcel spokesperson Mark Stutz. “Wind is never going to cut it as a base-load facility.”Xcel hopes to finance the would-be plant by charging residential customers $.89 per month beginning in January – about four years before Comanche Unit 3 would fire up. The utility says the finance plan would stave off higher costs down the road for ratepayers.
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