Thursday, September 21, 2017

Utilities Board agrees to add more solar after colorful public comment

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 2:58 PM

click to enlarge AMY GRAY
  • Amy Gray
On September 20, the Colorado Springs Utilities Board, which has the same members as City Council, heard a proposal to build enough solar panels to produce 70 megawatts of electricity. By the end of the meeting, they decided to go with 100 megawatts instead — enough to power about 28,000 homes for a year.

The new infrastructure will cost $3 million, according to the Gazette, paid for by a rate hike starting in 2019 that'll add an average of 70 cents to monthly residential electric bills. When it's up and running, the percentage of CSU's energy portfolio that comes from renewable sources will have nearly doubled.

Many who showed for public comment urged the board to move more aggressively on renewables and shutter the coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant sooner than 2035. Some referenced Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, which recently ravaged Florida and Texas, respectively, as examples of a dangerously changing climate caused by fossil fuel emissions. Board member Andy Pico denied that those storms were out of the ordinary and insisted that global warming isn't happening. He and Don Knight opposed the investment in solar. The rest of them were open to continuing discussions about a more sustainable energy future for Colorado Springs, provided it's not too expensive.

The board may have been moved by this, shall we say, unusual, use of the public comment period. Watch below as members of and COS CAN act out the existential battle between coal and solar. The theatrics start a little more than four minutes into this video.

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