Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association will close its coal-powered Craig Station by January 1, 2028 and Springerville Station Unit 3 in 2031, and seeks to acquire 1,250 megawatts of new renewable energy resources by 2031, according to the utility’s latest electric resource plan. Western Resource Advocates and other stakeholders worked closely with Tri-State throughout 2023 in the development of the renewable energy and storage acquisitions of this plan, which was filed today with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
As part of its preferred plan, Tri-State seeks to tap into a unique source of funding: the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $9.7 billion Empowering Rural America program, part of the Inflation Reduction Act. This funding will help Tri-State reduce the risks of saddling customers with increased power bills due to stranded asset costs.
“Tri-State should be commended for proposing a transformational electric resource plan, which will reduce carbon pollution across the West and provide economic benefits for its member cooperatives,” said Stacy Tellinghuisen, deputy director of policy development at WRA. “We encourage other utilities to take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to use federal funds to replace expensive, polluting plants with cleaner resources.”
Craig Station is a 1.285-GW, three-unit generating facility located in northwestern Colorado. Unit 3, which is owned entirely by Tri-State, was originally slated for retirement by the end of 2029. Craig Units 1 and 2 are referred to as the Yampa Project, and are owned by Tri-State, PacifiCorp, Platte River Power Authority, SRP and Xcel Energy. Unit 1 will retire in 2025, and Unit 2 will retire in 2028.
The Springerville power plant is a 1.765-GW, four-unit generating facility located in eastern Arizona near the New Mexico border. The 458-MW capacity Unit 3 is wholly owned by Tri-State. Built in 2006 with a projected lifespan of 60 years, today marks the first time Tri-State has announced a retirement date for the facility. Springerville Units 1 and 2 are owned by Tucson Electric Power; the utility plans to retire these in 2027 and 2032, respectively. Unit 4 is owned by Salt River Project and has no retirement date.
“Tri-State’s proposed plan shows that with the right approach, shifting to renewable energy is possible in a timely, reliable and economically beneficial way,” said Alex Routhier, Ph.D., Arizona clean energy manager and senior policy advisor at WRA. “With Tri-State’s announcement, Arizona’s Salt River Project is now the only owner of Springerville without an announced retirement date for this high cost, pollution-intensive coal fired power plant. We encourage SRP to follow Tri-State’s lead and seriously evaluate continued reliance on coal-fired power from Springerville.”
In its 2020 electric resource plan, Tri-State committed to significant carbon pollution reductions for energy serving its Colorado cooperative members. The 2023 plan builds on that progress by retiring the Springerville unit in Arizona and adding renewables and battery storage that will serve cooperatives across Tri-State’s system. If approved by the Colorado commission, Tri-State’s proposed resource acquisition — a mix of wind, solar and battery storage — will be the largest in its history, and result in a $1.8 billion savings for the utility’s members. In addition, Tri-State’s plan will result in an 89% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado by 2030, relative to a 2005 baseline. WRA will participate in the commission proceeding to review other elements of the plan later this year.
News item from WRA