Craig Station’s Unit 1 scheduled to retire in 2025
Currently, no jobs will be lost with the announcement, Tri-State says
Unit 1 at Craig Station will be retired in the next decade based on an agreement between the coal-fired power plant’s owners, government regulators and conservation groups.
As part of a proposed revision to the Colorado Visibility and Regional Haze State Implementation Plan (SIP), the 427-megawatt unit will be out of commission by Dec. 31, 2025.
Lee Boughey, senior manager of corporate communications and public affairs for Tri-State, said employees at the plant are not immediately at risk.
“We have a significant amount of time until Unit 1 would be retired and that gives us time to plan and work with the employees and the communities on the transition,” he said.
Unit 2 and Unit 3 at the 1,303 megawatt coal-fired Craig Station will continue to burn but with additional emissions controls to meet the SIP.
Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, an electrical cooperative that owns one of the plant’s three generating stations, is responsible for operations at Craig Station.
Tri-State is putting into place a transition team to work with employees and the community to understand the needs and assess impacts in order to move forward, Boughey said.
Retiring the unit was an agreement between Tri-State, PacifiCorp, Platte River Power Authority, Salt River Project, Public Service Company Colorado and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, WildEarth Guardians and the National Park Conservation Association.
According to a news release from Tri-State, the 2014 implementation plan required significant reductions in nitrogen oxide emissions and Unit 1’s owners decided to retire the station rather than install emissions controls.
Tri-State CEO Mike McInnes said in a statement that the closure proves Northwest Colorado is not immune to challenges facing the coal industry.
“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,” he said.
WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director Jeremy Nichols said the shutdown is indicative of the coal industry’s overall decline.
“The writing on the wall is that the future for coal is really bleak,” he said. “This is a very concrete example of where things are going.”
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment stated in a news release that the agreement would lead to an “annual reductions of millions of tons of air pollution, including pollutants that contribute to unhealthy ozone formation, emissions that can affect visibility in national and state parks and wilderness areas, and greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.”
The same agreement shutting down Craig Station’s Unit 1 will also close Tri-State’s coal-fired Nucla Station by 2022 and cease coal production at New Horizon Mine.
According to Tri-State, approximately 283 people work at Craig Station and the plant is capable of producing 1,303 megawatts.
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Members of the Ute tribe from the Uintah and Ouray Reservation will return to Steamboat Springs to perform a series of powwow dance performances and share the history of these dances and their culture.