The AQCC meeting on Thursday, November 19 began with public comment. There were a limited number of people who signed up , but included were several stellar two minute comments from high school students representing a Net Zero club at a Denver area high school.
The presentation by Lisa Devore focused primarily on scheduled retirements for 9 coal powered plants and one mine spread out roughly over the next decade. This will result in a significant drop in emissions from the Electric Generating Units (EGUs) in the state. Commissioner Elise Jones, asked about the possibility of pushing some of these plant retirements* forward. Staff seemed to think that this would be asking too much of the utilities given the complex nature of these transitions. A question was also asked about whether it was expected for the transition to be to natural gas vs renewables. Given the variety of EGUs in the state it was impossible to answer this question directly, but it was pointed out that the improved cost of wind and solar makes renewables an increasingly attractive option.
* They are being called retirements and not closures, because although coal is being phased out either natural gas or renewables will replace them and the plants will in many cases still be open.
There has been a 14% drop in emissions from the O&G sector over the last decade. This leaves vehicle emissions as the largest piece of the emissions pie. It should be noted that for the purposes of the Regional Haze State Implementation Plan the emissions of interest are limited to NOx, SO2, and particulates.
Other good news is that the state is on track for meeting goals to reduce regional haze in both Rocky Mountain National Park and the Great Sand Dunes National Park.
1) The state has been making progress and their work needs to be recognized and congratulated. However, given the current climate emergency, we need to keep up the pressure for faster reductions of emissions in all sectors.
2) There is more than one way to skin a cat; in addition to improving regulations for O&G operators, we can also reduce the influence of the petroleum industry by reducing demand for their products. Right now in Colorado we need a focus on the transportation sector, moving away from combustion engines to electric/hydrogen vehicles and improving public transportation networks.
3) We need to continue to encourage the PRPA to scuttle any plans for future construction of natural gas units and to take the necessary steps to prepare for a transition to 100% renewable power generation by 2030.