COLORADO SPRINGS — The years-long effort to remove the Martin Drake Power Plant from the skyline of Colorado Springs moves closer to reality this week as the plant will permanently close on Thursday. Soon after, the work to find a demolition contractor will begin.
In 2021, leaders with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) announced plans to decommission the plant years a dozen years ahead of schedule. The CSU Board had originally planned to close the plant in 2035.
Drake Power Plant will shut down for good tomorrow night. We used coal for the last time at the plant one year ago. Now we’re turning off the natural gas units. Drake has served our community for almost 100 years. But it’s time to say farewell. Hello, cleaner energy future. pic.twitter.com/yfWDswB4UC— Colorado Springs Utilities (@CSUtilities) August 30, 2022
The last load of coal was burned at the facility in August 2021 as crews moved over to a natural gas operation which should be commissioned in early 2023.
The six natural gas generators are the bridge for change. They are massive, yet moveable. It means they can operate near downtown as a temporary location while Drake comes down, and transmission lines are rerouted.
The only remaining power plant in the Colorado Springs Utilities' portfolio to still burn coal for electric generation is the Ray Nixon plant near Pikes Peak International Raceway. The Colorado Springs Utilities Sustainable Energy Plan calls for the elimination of all coal as an energy source by 2030. That would help CSU to reach a projected 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions.
The city will eventually replace the electricity produced here with the completion of the new 175-megawatt Pike Solar and Storage Project. The anticipated transition should take place by early 2024, according to Colorado Springs Utilities.
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