From The Editor: The vast world of Northwest Colorado’s energy economy |

From The Editor: The vast world of Northwest Colorado’s energy economy

Noelle Leavitt Riley

Imagine life without electricity. Picture yourself rushing home after a long day at work and fumbling around for matches to light a candle so you can illuminate your house.

There’s no light switch, no lamp to turn on — nothing but darkness until you light that fire.

That’s the way society lived up until the late 1800s until Thomas Edison invented the electric light system. It wasn’t until 1878 that Edison had figured out how to generate electricity that has now become a multi billion-dollar industry that the entire world relies on.

If it’s difficult to imagine society without an electrical system, perhaps it becomes more real when you think about life without cell phones, dishwashers, laundry machines and computers.

Luckily, most of the world, including the United States, won’t have to worry about being without that light switch, cell phone or computer. Electricity is here to stay, whether it be from coal-fired power plants, wind, solar or hydro energy.

With new Environmental Protection Agency regulations coming down the pike, the energy landscape could change for coal-fired power plants, and many in the Northwest Colorado energy sector are trying to find reasonable regulations with the federal government.

In this section, we heavily outline the coal industry in Moffat and Routt counties, as mining and coal-fired power plants have a huge presence here. We also outline why wind farms have not been constructed in this portion of the state. Additionally, Northwest Colorado’s first solar garden is slated to break ground this month.

So, between looming EPA regulations and new renewable options, the energy economy remains one of the largest employers in this region.

One out of five jobs in Moffat County come from the coal mining sector, and one out of every 10 jobs in Routt County comes from coal, according to Yampa Valley Data Partners that tracks the economics of both counties.

The Craig Daily Press is pleased to bring you The Energy Blend — a first ever in depth look at the energy sector in Moffat and Routt counties. The idea came after I took my first tour of Craig Station.

I was in awe of the coal-fired power plant and how it operates.

The coal industry is under an eagle eye right now as Pres. Barack Obama and the EPA works to regulate carbon emissions for existing coal-fired power plants.

If you’re not familiar with the local energy economy, it’s my hope that The Energy Blend will highlight the complex industries.

Noelle Leavitt Riley is the managing editor of the Craig Daily Press and the Saturday Morning Press. Contact her at 970-875-1790 or

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