- Associated Press - Saturday, June 13, 2015

CRAIG, Colo. (AP) - A utility cooperative that is fighting to preserve a supply source for a coal-fired power plant in Craig has announced a 25-year contract for obtaining additional wind energy in eastern Colorado while it awaits a decision from a federal judge on coal mining.

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association will buy the entire 76-megawatt output of Iberdrola Renewables’ Twin Buttes II Wind Project south of Lamar.

The project is near Iberdrola Renewables’ existing Twin Buttes project, and will include 38 wind turbines on 11,000 acres, providing enough energy to power the equivalent of 30,000 average Colorado households.

Tri-State is a not-for-profit power supplier to 44 electric cooperatives and public power districts serving some 1.5 million consumers in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

It owns the Colowyo Mine between Craig and Meeker, which supplies about half the coal for the Craig plant, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported (https://tinyurl.com/n9aafp2).

Last month a federal judge ruled that the federal government made errors leading to its 2007 approval of an expansion of the mine. Judge R. Brooke Jackson gave the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement 120 days to clarify the matter or the approval would be revoked. That would shut down the mine while it continues to seek approval to expand into another area.

Tri-State spokesman Drew Kramer said the organization remains committed to coal, but he said it has been steadily diversifying its energy sources to take advantage of cost-effective renewable resources.

Tri-State chief executive officer Mike McInnes said of coal, “It’s the basis for reliability and it’s the basis for affordable electricity.”

Jeremy Nichols, with WildEarth Guardians, the group whose lawsuit led to the recent Colowyo ruling, called Tri-State’s growing wind portfolio progress, but he said the company is still burning too much coal.


Information from: The Daily Sentinel, https://www.gjsentinel.com

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