Tri-State reaches settlement regarding local transition away from coal |

Tri-State reaches settlement regarding local transition away from coal

Craig Station Power Plant at 2101 S Ranney St, Craig, CO 81625 on Dec. 17, 2021.
Photo by Billy Schuerman / For the Craig Press

As part of a large settlement reached on Tri-State’s 2020 Electric Resource Plan (ERP), a facilitated stakeholder engagement process will begin this year to help assist the city of Craig and Moffat County during the transition away from coal.

According to a news release from Tri-State, the energy provider has agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade substantially — 26% in 2025, 36% in 2026, 46% in 2027 and 80% in 2030 — when compared to its 2005 emissions. The agreement is between more than 20 parties included in Phase One of the plant’s ERP.

“A third-party facilitated stakeholder engagement process will take place this year to explore community assistance opportunities for the City of Craig and Moffat County, Colo., as the region prepares for the retirement of Craig Station by 2030,” the news release reads.

This means that various constituencies and stakeholders — including the Office of Just Transition — will meet with a facilitator to create an informational community assistance plan, which will be filed with the Public Utilities Commission. Other stakeholders include the City of Craig, Moffat County, the Colorado Energy Office and the Office of the Utility Consumer Advocate. The Office of Just Transition will cover the price of the facilitator up to $100,000, and if there are remaining costs, those will be paid for by Tri-State. The total price for the facilitator will not exceed $300,000.

Stakeholders will meet no later than March 1 of this year in order to begin developing the scope of work to be done in the facilitated process.

In an email to Craig and Moffat County elected officials and key staff members, Office of Just Transition Director Wade Buchanan wrote that the office’s job is to be an “effective and supportive partner” for coal transition workers and communities like Craig and the county.

“We are committed to work with Craig and with Moffat County to make the most of this opportunity for Tri-State to develop a community assistance strategy that helps set Craig and Moffat County on the path to a prosperous future,” Buchanan’s email reads. “We look forward to working with you on this critical effort and to ensuring the most important voices – those from the communities themselves – are the ones heard first and most clearly in the process.”

Tri-State’s release also discusses savings percentages targets that have been set for Tri-State’s energy efficiency programs, which will be achieved along with the plant’s cooperative members, and the programs are designed to encourage consumers to use energy wisely by reducing inefficient equipment use. This includes supporting the installation of heat pumps and heat pump water heaters, efficient appliances, electric motors, LED lighting and other energy-saving products.

“Tri-State will have incremental annual energy efficiency savings targets for its Colorado member system load of at least 0.35% in 2023, 0.5% by 2024, 0.75% by 2025, and 1% by 2030,” the news release also reads.

Tri-State will also issue a request for proposals later in 2022 to solicit bids for “highly competitive” renewable and storage resources coming through 2026.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission is expected to review and consider approval of the settlement during the first quarter of this year. The CPUC was in Craig last October to hear from community members about Phase One of Public Service Company of Colorado’s ERP and Clean Energy Plan (CEP).

“Tri-State is grateful to our members, state officials, environmental advocates and labor representatives who worked with us to achieve this settlement, which is a meaningful advancement in our efforts to transform our cooperative as we responsibly serve reliable and affordable power to rural communities, for our members and Colorado,” Duane Highley, CEO for Tri-State, said in the release.

Parties in the settlement have also agreed to continued analysis of the retirement date for Craig Station Unit 3, which previous modeling validated would retire by 2030, to ensure reliable power to Tri-State’s utility members.

Currently, coal-powered plants in both Craig and nearby Hayden are set to close by the end of the decade. Xcel Energy is proposing to retire Hayden 1 plant in 2027 and Hayden 2 in 2028. Craig 1 is planned to close by 2025, Craig 2 by 2028, and Craig 3, which is owned by Tri-State, will close by 2030.

“Where Tri-State has retired coal power plants that it operates, it is working closely with community leaders to support their economic development goals, as well as support employees in transition,” the release continues.


Parties on the settlements:


Tri-State’s Wyoming and Colorado members distribution systems

staff of the CPUC

Colorado Energy Office

Colorado Independent Energy Association

Colorado Office of Utility Consumer Advocate

Colorado Solar and Storage Association/Solar Energy Industries Association,

Conservation Coalition (including Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Western Colorado Alliance)

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local #111

Interwest Energy Alliance

Western Resource Advocates

Southwest Energy Efficiency Project

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