Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association announced the retirement of its remaining New Mexico coal-fired power plant by the end of 2020 and its remaining Colorado coal plants and coal mine by 2030. This includes the 253-megawatt Escalante Station in Prewitt, New Mexico, the 1,285-megawatt Craig Station in Moffat County, Colorado, and the Colowyo mine in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties.
Collectively, the closure of the power plants and mine will impact approximately 600 power plant and mine employees, which includes 107 employees at Escalante station, 253 at Craig Station, and 219 people at the mine, according to the company.
“Serving our members’ clean energy and affordability needs, supporting state requirements and goals, and leading the fundamental changes in our industry require the retirement of our coal facilities in Colorado and New Mexico,” said Rick Gordon, chairman of the board of Tri-State and a director of Mountain View Electric Association in eastern Colorado. “As we make this difficult decision, we do so with a deep appreciation for the contributions of our employees who have dedicated their talents and energy to help us deliver on our mission to our members.”
Tri-State said it will work with state and local officials to support affected employees and their communities during the transition.
Tri-State attributed the decision to retire the Escalante Station to the economics of operating the power plant in a competitive power market, and the company’s addition of low-cost renewable resources.
Escalante Station employees will receive a severance package, the opportunity to apply for vacancies at other Tri-State facilities, assistance with education and financial planning, and supplemental funding for health benefits, according to the company.
Tri-State previously announced that Craig Station’s 427-megawatt Unit 1 will close by the end of 2025. The 410-megawatt Unit 2 and the 448-megawatt Unit 3 will close by 2030. Tri-State operates Craig Station and owns 24% of Units 1 and 2. Tri-State owns 100% of Unit 3. Tri-State is working with the other plant owners to determine the specific details for the retirement of Unit 2.
Colowyo Mine produces coal used at Craig Station and will cease production by 2030, at which time operations will turn entirely to reclamation. Tri-State purchased Colowyo Mine from Rio Tinto in 2011.
“With 10 years until the closure of Craig Station and Colowyo Mine, we have additional time to work with the legislature, our employees and the communities in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties to plan for and support the transition,” said Highley. “Our work starts now to ensure we can continue to safely produce power while working with stakeholders to thoughtfully plan for the future.”
Tri-State previously retired its coal capacity at Nucla Station in western Colorado in 2019.
Tri-State’s announcement is part of its Responsible Energy Plan, which it said will transform the cooperative power supplier, while maintaining its strong financial position.
“We are leading to be the cleanest, most flexible and most competitive cooperative power supplier for the benefit of our members, the communities they serve and the states we live in,” CEO of Tri-State Duane Highley said.