January 19, 2022
Western Resource Advocates today welcomed Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association’s submission of a Colorado Electric Resource Plan settlement agreement that includes ambitious and important targets for reducing the utility’s fossil-fuel emissions between 2025 and 2030.
The agreement provides significant benefits above and beyond Tri-State’s Responsible Energy Plan announced in 2020. The new agreement establishes a declining trajectory for greenhouse gas emissions caused by Tri-State’s wholesale sales of electricity in Colorado. Tri-State is committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least 26% by 2025, 36% by 2026, and 46% by 2027, compared with 2005 levels. Tri-State plans to achieve at least an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and take important steps to ensure the emission reductions it is claiming are not double counted.
“Tri-State has come a long way. This important agreement marks the first time Tri-State is committing to near-term, enforceable reductions in climate-changing greenhouse gas pollution,” said Jon Goldin-Dubois, president of Western Resource Advocates. “While other utilities have commitments to reduce emissions in 2030, we know we don’t have a moment to spare in drastically reducing the fossil-fuel pollution that causes climate change. This agreement will make significant progress in accelerating emission reductions in the West, all while reducing costs for customers and supporting communities most impacted by the transition. We have much work to do, but Tri-State is to be commended for taking these steps to maximize near-term emission reductions, the most important action society can take to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
“This agreement will help Tri-State make important progress in reducing its harmful fossil-fuel emissions that cause climate change,” said Stacy Tellinghuisen, Western Resource Advocates’ climate policy manager. “Tri-State’s commitment to reduce its emissions in interim years means it will make meaningful, consistent progress toward achieving an 80% reduction in emissions by 2030, and the accounting provisions ensure those emission reductions are real and verifiable.”
“Tri-State’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is achievable and will help create public health and economic benefits for Colorado and the other states it serves, all while making significant progress to act on climate change,” said Ellen Howard Kutzer, Western Resource Advocates’ senior staff attorney in Colorado. “Tri-State will review the continued operation of the coal-fired Craig Station Unit 3 power plant, to evaluate lower-cost, lower-carbon alternatives in the market, without building new gas. Tri-State is also improving its commitment to coal-impacted communities to ensure a just transition. We look forward to working with Tri-State as it commits to decarbonizing its system.”
The Tri-State agreement also includes provisions to adopt and achieve more ambitious levels of energy efficiency. Across the Interior West, WRA is seeking to implement proactive energy efficiency and energy conservation measures, with the aim of reducing emissions from power generation and improving the reliability of the electricity system.
Importantly, the Tri-State agreement calls for the utility to work with the Colorado Office of Just Transition, Colorado Energy Office, and Colorado’s consumer advocate to hold a stakeholder process and develop a formal just transition plan for the Colorado communities of Craig and Montrose County. Nucla Station in Montrose County retired in 2019. In 2020, the five owners of coal-fired Craig Station Unit 2 agreed to retire the coal-fired power plant by September 2028, and Tri-State previously committed to retiring Unit 3 at the Craig Station in 2029. The owners of Unit 1 had previously announced that unit would be retired by the end of 2025.
In order to limit warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we need to decrease greenhouse gas pollution from all sectors of the economy as quickly as possible, but at least 50% by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. The power sector provides some of the most cost-effective opportunities to reduce climate pollution in the near term, and thus emissions associated with electricity generation should decline at least 80% by 2030 in order to meet the broader economy-wide goal. Greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector are the nation’s second-largest source of the harmful fossil-fuel emissions that cause climate change.