Letter: We have the opportunity to be an example for other coal towns

Craig is one of many coal towns that is experiencing their power plant and mine closing with countless stores and businesses packing up shop. We are facing change in every direction we look: electric vehicle charging stations at Kum & Go and plastic bags being banned.

You may stop listening when people mention renewable energy, but have we ever considered what these changes could mean for us? Renewable energy could bolster our resilience, revitalize a sense of community, and ease the unavoidable transition from fossil fuels in a way that stimulates local economic growth.

For a smooth transition to occur, we need to know that our friends and family won’t be without jobs when the mine and power plant close and know that our local economy will not suffer. It’s critical that we consider four factors collectively that have previously been considered separately: what has to be done to the city, who will be involved, why these changes are important, and how it’s going to get accomplished.

Coal has kept our lights on for many years and no one can deny that, yet it’s a short-term solution and a limited resource. It can be hard to process our power coming from something as outlandish as sunlight. Renewable energy would provide reliable energy to our community while not causing individuals to be without jobs.

Xcel Energy says existing infrastructure for coal power plants can be retrofitted to utilize solar energy. This can bring more jobs to our hometown than the mere 25 to 30 jobs that Harbor Freight boasted about bringing. We already have the technology to take advantage of the world’s essentially inexhaustible supply of solar energy, but how we approach these changes will be key to the success of our town.

We have the opportunity to become an example for other coal mine towns across the country. I am suggesting a slow transition to renewable energy, which can buy us more time using coal with the goal of fully transitioning to renewables in the future. Change isn’t easy for anyone and walking into unknown territory will undoubtedly be challenging. Some things never change, like the love we have for our community, but having a say on the direction Craig is heading is key to our community well-being and economic resilience. We set an example of technological innovation and technology with coal. We can do it again with renewable energy.

Stephanie Furtivo


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