TELLURIDE – The Telluride Town Council upheld its commitment to green energy last week, sending a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency supporting its recent decision to control emissions from the massive Four Corners Power Plant, and finalizing a deal to invest in a local solar farm.
The letter, inked by Mayor Stu Fraser and signed by the entire council, praises the EPA for its 2012 ruling requiring the plant to reduce its nitrogen-oxide emissions and come into compliance with Clean Air Act Standards, and states that “the negative impacts of the coal-burning plant since 1963 without adequate air quality controls have been felt over a very far-reaching area.”
The letter also expresses council’s hope that the coal-fired generating stations at the plant be retrofit to generate renewable energy.
Four Corners Power Plant is one of the largest coal-fired generating stations in the United States, and a significant source of haze-causing pollutants. The plant is located on Navajo land in Fruitland, N.M., about 25 miles west of Farmington. The plant’s five aging units – which are between 40 and 50 years old – currently generate 2,040 megawatts, providing power to about 300,000 households in New Mexico, Arizona, California and Texas.
Plant operator Arizona Public Service Co. is slated to decommission its three oldest, most polluting generating units in the near future in response to a 2012 ruling by the EPA aimed at cleaning up the plant’s emissions. The EPA gave the plant’s operators a choice to either install emission control equipment at its five units or implement its own plan to shut down three units and install pollution controls at the two others. APS chose the latter option; according to the Associated Press it plans to permanently shutter three units and install $290 million in air scrubbers at the newer units.
The measure is expected to improve air quality throughout the region. According to a news release from APSC, closing the three units would reduce nitrogen-oxide emissions by 36 percent, mercury by 61 percent, particulates by 43 percent, carbon monoxide by 30 percent and sulfur dioxide by 24 percent.
Telluride Signs Deal With Solar Farm
TELLURIDE – Putting its money where its mouth is, council also granted approval last week for Telluride’s $187,000 investment in a new one-megawatt community-owned solar project that could, over time, deliver a small profit to the town for its energy use.
Carbondale-based solar developer Clean Energy Collective is building a seven-acre, 4,800-panel solar farm in the northeast corner of the sunny Paradox Valley along U.S. Hwy. 90, approximately 15 miles west of Naturita, that will be operated by San Miguel Power Association. SMPA customers – individuals, businesses and larger institutions including towns and counties – are invited to purchase photovoltaic panels in the array to offset their energy usage.
Telluride, Mountain Village, San Miguel County, Telski and the Town of Ridgway are among the entities that have pledged to invest in the endeavor.
Power from the array feeds directly into the electric grid. Investors receive a credit on their monthly electric bill equal to the amount of power generated by each purchased panel. Each solar panel is 235 watts, costs $705 and will generate around $45 worth of electricity per year. Within 14-16 years, panel owners will have paid off the initial investment and begin seeing a return on their investment of about 6 percent per year throughout the 50-year lifespan of the panel.
The program was launched by CEC and San Miguel Power Partners, in cooperation with the Telluride Foundation, the International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology and San Miguel Power Association.
Council had already given its blessing to Telluride’s involvement in the project conceptually, but when it came time to sign the contract, Town Attorney Kevin Geiger had a few issues that he needed to sort out with council in executive session.
Council then held a work session with CEC representatives, at which CEC agreed to revise the terms of the contract to meet the town’s needs.
“At this point it is a done deal,” said Town Manager Greg Clifton.
At its meeting last week, council also approved the 2013 Telluride Open Space Commission Work Plan, and approved funding recommendations from the Commission for Community Assistance, Arts and Special Events for the coming year.
In other news, discussion continues regarding parallel ballot questions that may be posed to voters in San Miguel County in the near future regarding taxpayer funding to support a regional transit authority and a regional recycle, reuse, single stream facility. Both ideas were aired at an intergovernmental work session among San Miguel County and its municipalities this week.
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