Op-Ed: An open letter to the Northwest Colorado community | CraigDailyPress.com

Op-Ed: An open letter to the Northwest Colorado community

Rick Gordon, Chairman, Duane Highley, CEO / Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association For Craig Press
A coal train makes a drop Thursday from Colowyo Coal Co. to Tri-State Generation & Transmission’s Craig Station. Craig Station receives about half of its coal supply from Colowyo, with the other half coming from Trapper mine.
Shawn McHugh

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association announced January 9 that Craig Station and the Colowyo Mine will be retiring by 2030. In addition, we will be retiring Escalante Station in New Mexico by the end of 2020. Over the next decade, we will work with our employees and northwest Colorado communities, and enlist the support of others, to reduce the impacts of the plant and mine closure as best we can.

This is not a decision that we’ve come to lightly, but one made after years of working hard to protect our employees and the communities we serve. It has now become one without an alternative. 

Tri-State and all power providers face significant change: Our members desire a lower emission power supply and greater flexibility in where power comes from; new laws affecting emissions and resources have been passed recently by state legislatures in Colorado and New Mexico.; and the broader energy markets continue to change. Given all of these factors, our board of directors – which represents our membership in all four states – needed to make difficult decisions.

As a not-for-profit wholesale power cooperative, we are responsible to the members we provide energy to. We have an obligation to all of our members to develop a path forward that ensures we can continue to operate today, and that we can keep providing reliable, affordable power for years to come. With our board of directors representing our members, we have developed a Responsible Energy Plan that addresses the changes in our industry.

We recognize the impacts the eventual closings of Craig Station and Colowyo Mine has on our employees, their families and their communities. The decision weighs heavily on us and is in no way a reflection of our talented and dedicated employees or the high-quality, safe work that we have accomplished over the years. Throughout this transition, our employees are and will remain our focus and we will work closely with state and local officials to minimize negative impacts and to identify opportunities for reinvestment and retraining. 

When we met with our employees and community leaders following the announcement, we were, as always, inspired by the professionalism and integrity of our employees and the strength and tenacity of the community.

Craig Station and the Colowyo Mine have played a critical role in helping us power communities across the West, and will continue to do so in the coming years. We thank you for your resiliency through the ups and downs we’ve walked through together, and we thank you for welcoming us into your communities and being our ally through the years. We recognize the effects these retirements will have, and we will work together with you to best ease the impacts.

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