Tri-State Generation and Transmission has applied to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a permit to burn more coal at the Craig Station.
But, the Denver-based group Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action has petitioned the department to deny the request because, the group claims, the permit would allow "significant increases" in emissions.
The department has not yet made a decision.
Tri-State is proposing to upgrade the unit 3 turbine to increase production by 30 megawatts, bringing plant capacity to 448 megawatts. The project also would entail upgrading an existing sulfur dioxide scrubber and installing a low nitrogen oxide burner system to keep emissions at current levels, according to its proposal.
Five companies, including Tri-State, own units 1 and 2 at the Craig Station. Tri-State, with the second-largest stake in the station, operates the facility.
The station serves about 1 million consumers throughout the Midwest.
Tri-State spokesman Jim VanSomeren said the company proposed the project to increase capacity and meet customer demand. The 30 watts the project would provide could serve an additional 22,500 consumers, he said.
"The demand for electricity continues to increase," VanSomeren said. "We are using all the power we can generate to meet our demand. ... This will alleviate just a little bit of pressure."
However, Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action says the Tri-State project doesn't do enough to reduce emissions, specifically particulate pollution and carbon monoxide.
"If Tri-State is interested in reducing air pollution, it could do much better and we hope the (air pollution control division) helps Tri-State get on that track sooner rather than later," director Jeremy Nichols wrote to the department of health and environment.
Western Colorado Congress, a Western Slope advocacy group, has joined Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action in opposing the Tri-State project.
Legislative organizer Mag-gie Berglund said the organization wants to see Tri-State explore renewable energy res-ources.
"We're not trying to shutdown Tri-State," Berglund said. "We're just saying, 'let's think carefully about where we go from here.'"
VanSomeren said Tri-State began work on unit 3 in the fall of 2005. The proposed project would "complete basically the second half" of that project.
If approved, the unit 3 project at the Craig Station would be completed in the spring of 2008.
Joshua Roberts can be reac-hed at 824-7031, ext. 210, or email@example.com.