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Industry News

Joint Owners of Colorado Coal-fired Power Plant Agree to Close 427-MW Unit

LCG, September 7, 2016--The owners of the Craig Station power plant announced last week an agreement to revise the Colorado Visibility and Regional Haze State Implementation Plan (SIP) with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others that includes the retirement of a 427-MW coal-fired unit at the electric generating facility. Unit 1, which was completed in 1980, will be subject to more stringent emission requirements starting in 2020 and will be retired by the end of 2025. Unit 2 and Unit 3 will continue to operate, with emission controls installed to meet the requirements of the agreement.

The owners of the 1,303-MW Craig Station are PacifiCorp, Platte River Power Authority, Salt River Project, Tri-State Generation and Transmission (the operator of the power plant) and Public Service Company of Colorado, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy. The other parties to the agreement include Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the EPA, WildEarth Guardians and the National Parks Conservation Association.

The SIP approved in 2014 required significant nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions reductions for Craig Station Unit 1 by August 2021. The owners reviewed several compliance options to meet the new standard, including installing additional emissions controls and switching fuels. The owners ultimately decided to seek an extension to the compliance deadline and unit retirement, rather than installing emissions controls. The decision to propose revising the SIP is driven by the state and federal regulatory environment for coal-based generation, current and forecasted market conditions, the significant costs to install additional emissions controls and the best interests of electric consumers.

Tri-State's CEO stated, "Tri-State has worked tirelessly to preserve our ability to responsibly use coal to produce reliable and affordable power, which makes the decision to retire a coal-fired generating unit all the more difficult. We are not immune to the challenges that face coal-based electricity across the country."

Craig Station Units 1 and 2 make up the Yampa Project, owned by PacifiCorp, Platte River Power Authority, Salt River Project, Tri-State and Public Service Company of Colorado. Tri-State is the sole owner of Unit 3.

Under the federal regional haze regulations, the State of Colorado develops and implements a SIP to address visibility in national parks and wilderness areas. Colorado's plan requires reductions of NOx emissions from generation sources.
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