They're singing his song in Colorado Springs, so naturally Gov. Jared Polis "applauded" a vote Friday by the city's power supplier to ease off coal and amp up wind and solar power.
The Colorado Springs Utilities board, which doubles as the City Council, voted to accelerate the closure of the coal-fired part of Martin Drake Power Plant by 2023, 12 years earlier than expected. The Ray Nixon coal plant near Fountain will close by 2030 followed by the Birdsall gas plant by 2035.
The utility expects to replace its 416 megawatts of coal-fired power with 500 megawatts of wind energy and 150 megawatts of solar power with more than 400 megawatts of battery storage and demand management programs.
The Democratic governor was elected in 2018 on a promise to move Colorado toward renewable energy.
“Colorado is rapidly moving toward meeting our bold goal of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2040 that will help create good green jobs and protect the air we breathe," Polis said in a statement Saturday. "So far this has been a revolutionary year for the transition away from coal-fired electricity towards cleaner sources of renewable energy.
“This bipartisan decision is a strong step for the Colorado Springs community, for our state and for our planet. Colorado continues to set an example for the rest of our country when it comes to renewable energy and climate action, and this announcement comes in the wake of numerous electric utilities across the state committing to a transition to clean energy. The pathway toward achieving our goals of protecting our environment and our communities is driven by a bold, swift transition to renewable energy.”
Colorado Springs Utilities board member Richard Skorman told the Colorado Springs Gazette on Friday that the decision was historic.
"This is a time for huge celebration," he said.
Board member Wayne Williams, the former Colorado secretary of state, said the Drake plant cost more to operate than what the city could buy energy for.
Board members Don Knight and Andy Pico opposed the plan focused on greater renewable energy, saying they view it as risky. It depends on future technological innovations, particularly around battery storage, that haven't happened yet, Knight said.
"I think the idea of adding incremental natural gas really makes a lot of sense," Pico said.
Mary Shinn of the Colorado Springs Gazette contributed to this story.