Craig leaders worry about future after power plant announces coal closures

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CRAIG, Colo. -- Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, an energy group in Colorado, announced this week plans to close its Craig coal facilities by 2030.

"Serving our members’ clean energy and affordability needs, supporting state requirements and goals, and leading the fundamental changes in our industry require the retirement of our coal facilities in Colorado and New Mexico,” said Rick Gordon, chairman of the board of Tri-State and a director of Mountain View Electric Association in eastern Colorado.

“As we make this difficult decision, we do so with a deep appreciation for the contributions of our employees who have dedicated their talents and energy to help us deliver on our mission to our members," he said.

Gov. Jared Polis praised the measure in his State of the State address Thursday.

"Some exciting news: Tri-State and its members announced they will be replacing their remaining coal power in the state of Colorado with renewables by 2030," Polis said, commenting on Colorado's transition to more renewable energy.

However, some lawmakers are livid with the decision.

"I represent Craig, Colorado -- there will be people crying in Craig, Colorado today," state Sen. Bob Rankin (R-Craig) said, adding, "We are willing to sacrifice an entire county of human beings so that we can make an ideological, symbolic gesture. I don't agree with that."

Other leaders, including U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, blasted Tri-State's move.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet has also weighed in on the decision.

“My thoughts are with those who live in the communities in and around Moffat County and across Northwest Colorado. Ensuring the future livelihoods of those affected by this announcement has to be a top priority as this transition plan moves forward," Bennet said. “Tri-State must work closely with Craig, Moffat County, and Northwest Colorado to develop new economic opportunities on the Western Slope and to support anyone displaced by this transition – not just while this announcement is in the headlines but in the years to come. Northwest Colorado is extraordinarily resilient and has exceptional leadership. My office stands ready to do everything we can to provide support and assistance throughout this process.”

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