If you live in Gunnison County (outside of the town of Gunni) and you pay an electric bill, then you are a member of Gunnison County Electric Association (GCEA), a co-op. As such you have a tremendous opportunity to influence local, regional, and national energy policy. You can determine energy policy by voting, or running, in GCEA elections and by telling your GCEA board members what you want from the co-op. GCEA is one of 44 co-ops that are members of Tri-State Generation and Transmission, a co-op of co-ops. GCEA gets to vote on and help determine Tri-State policy. Therefore, you have the privilege, right, responsibility to determine energy policy for 1.5 million people from Nebraska to New Mexico.
Tri-State generates and sells power to the member co-ops, and recently began buying power from local co-op’s renewable resources. In 2006 Tri-State teamed up with another parent co-op, Sunflower, in Kansas to build a 2100 MW coal fired electric plant. The plant was supposed to be on-line by 2013 but they couldn’t secure the Kansas air permits and ground has yet to broken. Since 2006 the project has been cut down to 895 MW with Tri-State’s share being 700MW. In May 2014 they got their permits and plans to build are back on line. They could start construction within 18 months.
The plan to build the plant is problematic in two keys areas. First the plant is projected to cost $2.8 BILLION, or $1,400 per co-op member (you!). Second is, of course, CO2 and toxic air emissions. The plant will emit millions of tons of CO2 per year and hundreds of thousands of tons of mercury and other pollutants, but that’s in KS so it’s ok (JK, we love you too KS ). The plant planners said they would use the latest in pollution controls and efficency, but then contracted to purchase an older, less efficient but cheaper, boiler type after they wrote the initial proposals. This is one of many examples demonstrating a lack of trustworthiness on their part.
Under Tri-State’s anticipated worst case scenario they will need 300 MW of power by 2028. This amount can be captured through further promotion of energy efficiency and local generation using renewable resources. This “worse case scenario” assumes that there will be no investment in efficiency or renewables. Clearly, that is out of touch with reality, as is the whole convoluted scheme of building the plant in the first place.
If the plant is too expensive, unnecessary, and will help destroy the world, then why on earth does a co-op want to do it? Tri-State will tell you that they expect massive growth in the handful of co-ops along the front-range over the next 50 to 100 years and they need coal generation to meet predicted demand. This is way too far in the future to plan generation resources under today’s energy climate. But Tri-State leadership grew up in the age of coal. It’s what they know. Since the co-op’s inception, to meet increased demand they shovel more coal into the boiler and build more plants. Times have changed and Tri-State is slow to adapt. Integrating renewables is difficult. Helping members make their homes and businesses energy efficient is way outside the box for an electric generation organization.
To their credit Tri-State has stepped up their efficiency and renewable game, but only because Colorado and New Mexico mandated it and because customers (you) demanded it. We need to turn up the heat since they got their air permit and still plan to waste our money on a dead technology with no use. CforSE is canvassing Tri-State member co-ops from Cortez to Holyoke to organize the voice of the members to say NO to Holcomb! You can help by contacting GCEA and telling them that you want them to adopt an official resolution calling for the abandonment of Holcomb 2 and to call on Tri-State to instead invest more in energy efficiency and renewable energy technology!
GCEA contact: Chris Morgan, President and Tri-State representative - firstname.lastname@example.org, PO Box 2324, Crested Butte, CO. 81224