At a glance
• State proposal would place an emission control technology called selective non-catalytic reduction at Tri-State Generation & Transmission’s Craig Station.
• New technology would have a start-up cost of about $40 million with an annual operating price tag of about $10 million.
• A secondary proposal has been introduced by several environmental groups that would place different and more expensive controls on the coal-fired power plant.
• The environmental groups’ proposal would cost $660 million, which could impact the Craig Station’s operation.
• Tri-State is currently fostering local support for the state’s cheaper proposal.
Tri-State Generation & Transmission’s coal-fired power plant in Craig may soon be receiving new emission control technologies as part of a state proposal, officials confirmed Monday.
Tri-State spokesman Brad Jones said the company is currently gathering local support for a proposal to comply with a regional haze program soon to be considered by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Jones said the state proposal is in response to a proposed 60-year federal program, which aims to reduce visibility impairments in the country’s national parks and wilderness areas.
Tri-State supports the state’s proposal, which would likely put in place new technologies to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide emissions released from the coal-fired Craig Station.
Jones said the emission control technology is called selective non-catalytic reduction, or SNCR.
The project would have a start-up cost of about $40 million with an annual operating price tag of about $10 million, Jones said.
The SNCR technologies would reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from the Craig Station by about 15 percent, in addition to the current emission control technologies already in place at the 1,300-megawatt power plant.
If the technology were to be implemented, the Craig Station would be the first power plant in the western United States to have such controls, Jones said.
The department of health and environment will host a public meeting Thursday in Denver to discuss the issue.
Tri-State officials are scheduled to meet with the Moffat County Commission regarding the issue and state proposal from 1:30 to 2 p.m. today at the Moffat County Courthouse, 221 W. Victory Way.
Jones said there is a hitch in the state proposal, however.
A secondary proposal has been introduced by “a coalition of environmental groups” that would place different and more expensive controls on the coal-fired power plant.
The technology the coalition is proposing is selective catalytic reduction, or SCR, which could reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 percent.
However, the technology comes with a $660 million price tag, Jones said.
“You are looking at a cost more than 16 times higher than what the state is proposing,” Jones said.
Under the state proposal, the Craig Station would be in compliance with the first phase of the 60-year regional haze program being introduced through the Environmental Protection Agency, Jones said.
Jones said the environmental coalition, which includes organizations like the Sierra Club, Environment Colorado and the Colorado Environmental Coalition, as well as Denver and Boulder counties, contend the SNCR technologies “are not good enough.”
“When you talk about adding technologies that are 16 times higher than what is appropriate, obviously that puts us in a very precarious position as to the ultimate decision of what we would do with Craig Station,” he said.
Jones said Tri-State is meeting with local governments, businesses and partnerships to garner support for the cheaper state proposal.
Tri-State will present the commission with a letter for consideration stating the environmental coalition’s proposal is “not feasible” and “could have a very sizeable impact on the operations at Craig Station,” Jones said.
The impacts of the environmental coalition’s proposal, Jones said, could trickle down to economic development, jobs and tax revenues associated with the operation of the plant.
Any installation of the emission control technologies at the Craig Station, however, would need to be approved through the legislature this session, Jones said.
The company has not discussed any possible cost recovery of the technologies if the state’s proposal is approved, Jones said.
“That’s not to say that moving forward there wouldn’t be an increase in rates, but our ultimate goal is to keep rates as steady as possible,” he said. “But, when you have investments of this nature, those do impact the decision-making process on how we determine rates for the following year.”
Jones also said that the state’s proposal for Tri-State is a separate issue from the recent passing of Colorado House Bill 10-1365, but the two share similar roots.
“You are looking at a coalition of interests that are attempting to eliminate coal from the resource mix in the state,” Jones said.
“That is what they are attempting to do by proposing (the SCR) program … is to make it so expensive that it doesn’t make sense to run Craig Station as a coal-generated facility.”