A little more light on the coal-burning issue

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A thank you to John Hazlehurst for explaining both sides of the HB 1365 debate (CSU takes contrarian view on gas, April 2). I would like to provide additional information critical to the issue.

While low-cost, low-sulfur coal provides the majority of the power for our community, Colorado Springs Utilities already has a diverse mix of fuel sources. More than 20 percent of our electricity comes from gas-fired plants and approximately 8 percent comes from renewable hydroelectric power.

Several local projects are in the works to add more renewable energy and reduce emissions from our coal plants:

Our fourth hydroelectric plant will begin operating this spring, bringing our local hydro capacity to 34 megawatts, enough power for 23,000 homes.

We are reviewing a proposal to bring more wind power to the community through a purchase power agreement with a company that will build a wind farm in eastern El Paso County.

We are working to have a woody biomass facility operational by 2012. The renewable energy plant will generate about 3 percent of our total electric output, reducing the need for 75,000 tons of coal each year. An added benefit will be healthier forests as most of the fuel would come from regional forests where the pine beetle has killed thousands of acres of trees.

In partnership with the Air Force Academy, construction will begin this year on a four to five megawatt solar facility on Academy grounds. We also provide rebates for customers who want to install photovoltaic solar systems.

With local entrepreneur Neumann Systems Group, we are testing emissions control equipment at the Drake Power Plant. The new technology is removing up to 99 percent of sulfur dioxide from power plant exhaust and has shown potential to remove greenhouse gases as well.

These local projects will allow us to increase our renewable energy supply and manage the cost of energy for our customers. These solutions will create jobs, leverage our existing infrastructure and improve the quality of life in our community.

Dave Grossman, corporate communitcations, Colorado Springs Utilities