Peabody backs out of reservoir project |

Peabody backs out of reservoir project

— Peabody Energy has backed away from plans to build the 400-acre Trout Creek Reservoir about 15 miles southwest of Steamboat Springs.

Information that Peabody was working on the reservoir project first surfaced in 2012, when a memo was sent to the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy.

Because the plan included a proposed hydroelectric dam that would generate 125 kilowatts of electricity, Peabody was seeking approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.

On Tuesday, FERC released a letter stating it was terminating the licensing process because Peabody had missed deadlines.

In 2015, because of dwindling demand for coal, Peabody asked for a two-year extension in the permitting process so the company could conserve cash and reduce debt. In April, Peabody declared bankruptcy.

Some environmentalist declared a victory when FERC terminated the licensing process.

“This is good news for Trout Creek, the Yampa River and the entire Colorado River basin,” Save The Colorado’s Gary Wockner said in a news release. “The last thing we need is to be further damming and draining rivers to support coal mining. The future of water supply and energy production is in conservation, wind and solar.”

The reservoir would have been created by an earthen dam slightly below the confluence of Trout and Middle creeks.

The primary purpose of the dam was to provide a permanent source of water for coal washing at its nearby mines.

Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said he has struggled with the concept of building a reservoir for coal operations, and there were concerns surrounding what impact the dam would have on the Yampa River.

He said Peabody could always restart their efforts if the time is right.

“It kicks them back to the starting line again,” Monger said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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