Monday, September 10, 2012

City Council to revisit Utilities issues, including Drake

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2012 at 6:03 PM

The Colorado Springs City Council, acting as the Utilities Board, will revisit previous decisions about coal-fired Drake Power Plant and Neumann Systems Group's pollution control equipment currently being installed on the downtown plant.

Colorado Springs Utilities Steve Shuck Drake Power Plant
  • Drake: A political football.

Councilwoman Angela Dougan called Monday for a special meeting of the Colorado Springs Utilities Board today, producing a letter signed by herself and three other councilors in support of revisiting the following:

— Agreements with Neumann Systems Group;

— Moving the Neumann technology from Drake to the Nixon Power Plant south of Colorado Springs;

— "Future actions regarding Martin Drake with the inclusion of data from industry experts not within CSU";

— Citizen and community comment on Drake and Neumann's contracts;

— A closed legal session "for the purposes of receiving legal advice from the City Attorney with regard to Neumann and options for Martin Drake."

Colorado Springs Utilities Drake
  • Dougan: In league with Bach.

Under Utilities Board bylaws, three members can request a special meeting.

Dougan's letter also contained the signatures of Brandy Williams, Tim Leigh and Val Snider. All but Snider had previously expressed reservations about a prior board decision to put off studying closing Drake until 2013 and to proceed with installation of the Neumann technology. Snider voted with the majority in the past to study Drake next year.

The city has been in a relationship with Neumann for several years and the technology is in the process of being installed. The city's contract calls on paying Neumann more than $100 million for the installation, but that's far less than competing technologies would charge, Utilities officials have said.

In addition, the city stands to collect 3 percent of the gross selling price of all Neumann systems sold within a multi-year period thereafter, a potential bonanza for ratepayers.

Dave Neumann, developer of the technology, responded to the development with this e-mail message: "We are continuing to perform our contract with CSU and are on schedule and under cost. Over $50 million has been spent on the project."


However, Mayor Steve Bach has called for the closure and removal of Drake — which occupies a prime lower downtown spot that his developer friends might be interested in as a sports stadium site. Environmentalists have joined Bach in his demand, citing pollution from Drake.

CSU officials have said Drake is a sound power plant that could produce low-cost power for 20 years and included the Drake plant in the Electric Integration Resource Plan drafted last year.

The special board meeting will take place at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, at the Utilities board room in the Plaza of the Rockies building.

Dougan's request comes on the heels of developer Steve Schuck calling a private meeting of the influence brokers to discuss selling the electric utility. A full report on Schuck's power move can be found here.

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