February 26, 2010
Brian Bernhardt; ‘Power Past Coal’ Organizer; 703-439-0725; firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Guinan, ‘Power Past Coal’ Organizer; 303-999-6374; email@example.com
Tom Weis, President of Wind Power Solutions; 303-499-9648; firstname.lastname@example.org
Denver, CO – At 11:45am on Friday, February 26th, local citizens demonstrated at the Denver headquarters of Xcel Energy – located at the corner of 17th St. and Lawrence St. – in protest of the utility’s impending plan to bring a new coal-fired power plant online in Pueblo, CO. The lunch hour protest called on Xcel executives to move Colorado in the right direction by keeping the Comanche 3 coal-fired power plant closed. Protestors demonstrated in a ‘die-in’ in front of the building’s main entrance to highlight the grim consequences that coal has on our lives and those of future generations. Simultaneously, two activists clad in hazmat suits dropped a banner off an adjoining bridge on Lawrence St. Police arrived on scene but no arrests were made.
The 750-megawatt Comanche Unit 3 would be the largest coal-fired power plant in the state, surpassing even the mammoth Cherokee coal plant in North Denver. “At a time when the costs of coal are becoming increasingly clear and the benefits of clean energy are ever more apparent, building the largest coal-fired power plant in the state is taking us 180 degrees in the wrong direction,” said Amy Guinan, an activist with Power Past Coal.
According to Xcel’s own data, the Comanche 3 plant would emit over 20 million pounds of CO2 a day, 2 pounds of mercury a week and thousands of tons of particulates and haze forming pollutants every year. The plant would also consume over 4 million gallons of water a day.
“Xcel has already wasted nearly $1 billion on this planet-destroying boondoggle. Operating it could cost ratepayers billions more. For the sake of Colorado’s children, and future generations, it is time for Xcel to pull the plug on this ill-conceived coal plant and redirect their investments towards making Colorado 100% renewable,” said Tom Weis, President of Wind Power Solutions.
Xcel has had ongoing problems bringing the plant online. While Xcel originally hoped to bring the plant into operation last fall, a variety of technical problems – currently involving a boiler pump – continue to push back its scheduled opening.
“There are a lot more than just technical problems with this new coal-fired power plant. There are serious social, economic and environmental problems. Rather than talking about a delayed opening, we should be talking about a permanent closure. Instead of building a new coal-fired plant, Xcel should be investing heavily in Colorado’s abundant solar and wind resources,” said Brian Bernhardt, an activist with Power Past Coal.
Today’s protest is part of an ongoing series of actions to move Colorado beyond coal. Sparked by the failure of elected and appointed officials to take meaningful action to move rapidly to renewable energy, the Power Past Coal campaign is building a grassroots protest effort. With the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment approving the permit-to-pollute for both the Valmont and Cherokee stations despite overwhelming public opposition, citizens are prepared to ramp up the pressure on Xcel executives, as well as Colorado politicians and regulatory agencies.
“Our leaders are failing to lead and Xcel is failing to take their responsibility seriously. Xcel should expect more protests and actions unless they start closing down coal plants and moving Colorado to 100% renewable electricity,” Kate Clark, a Power Past Coal activist.
Xcel has been challenged on multiple fronts this week. On Tuesday evening, Pueblo residents – where the new coal-fired power plant is built – raised serious concerns about high-pitched noises from the plant which are affecting people as far as nine miles away. Meanwhile, WildEarth Guardians petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect clean air and the climate and overturn an air pollution permit allowing Xcel Energy to illegally pollute while operating the Pawnee coal-fired power plant.
*Photographs available throughout the day at: