Tri-State announces early closure of Nucla Station |

Tri-State announces early closure of Nucla Station

Nucla Station
Courtesy Photo

It powered homes and businesses for some six decades, but on Thursday, Sept. 19, Tri-State announced Nucla Station coal-fired power plant made its last spark.

In a news release Thursday, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association said it officially retired from service as a coal plant its 100-megawatt Nucla Station.

“The end of generation occurred as the facility exhausted its remaining on-site fuel supply earlier in the month,” the release said. “With the retirement, Tri-State meets its deadline for ending plant operations under Colorado’s regional haze visibility State Implementation Plan. The facility, which had its final run of generation July 11 through Sept. 9, was set to be retired by the end of 2022.” 

As part of the closure, Tri-State said they’re providing a half-million dollars over the next five years in community support during the retirement.

“While our generating station has been a significant part of Nucla and Naturita communities for many years, it made the most sense to come offline at this time in a controlled fashion, while maintaining compliance with all of our federal and state environmental regulations,” said Duane Highley, Tri-State chief executive officer. “We will support the remaining employees at the plant and the community during this transitional period of decommissioning and dismantling the facility.”

Nucla Station, which began operations in 1959, currently has 35 employees who will continue at the plant and immediately commence work on pre-decommissioning activities.

“Dismantling of the facility is expected to begin during the first half of 2020,” Tri-State said.  

Nucla Station was one of the first to use a form of clean coal technology.

“Nucla Station has the distinction of being the world’s first utility-scale power plant to utilize atmospheric circulating fluidized bed combustion, which achieved 70% capture of sulfur dioxide emissions and reduced the formation of nitrogen dioxide,” Tri-State said in its release. “The technology still is used today around the world to achieve lower emissions from power plants.”

Tri-State announced the early retirement of Nucla on July 17, as part of its transformative Responsible Energy Plan, but Thursday’s release set that date forward several months. Tri-State said it is “aggressively pursuing its plan, which will transition the cooperative to a cleaner energy portfolio while ensuring reliable, affordable and responsible generation to its 43 member cooperatives and public power districts,” the release said.

Tri-State said their new push for more renewables “will increase member flexibility, with an overall goal to lower wholesale rates.”

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