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"I don't see a pendulum swing in a different direction to allow this to continue. Just don't see it."

For centuries, society has relied on coal because it's been dependable. Reserves can be stored indefinitely and burned as needed to meet electricity demand in any weather, any time of day.

But at the Craig coal-fired power station, plant manager Tim Osborn knows things are changing. He knows that people want cleaner, greener energy on the grid. He knows that coal is no longer in demand like it used to be.

Now, he has to figure out what he'll do next.

"Today in some areas, even building a new wind farm is cheaper than running an old coal plant which you would not have seen 10 years ago."

Coal has been losing ground to renewables like wind and solar for decades, says Suzanne Tegen of the Center for the New Energy Economy. Prices of cleaner, greener technologies have come way down. And now, Colorado has made greenhouse gas reductions a priority. Coal is no longer the market driver it once was.

"Should Colorado be the beacon for the rest of the world – or not?"

Energy is a global challenge. But the transition is well underway in Colorado, and policymakers like State Senator Bob Rankin want to walk the tightrope between aspiration and pragmatism. What will the state reasonably be able to achieve over the next decade? And what will that mean for our electricity?

Tim Osborn, Vice President of Generation, Tri-State Generation and Transmission
Bob Rankin, State Senator, Colorado District 8
Suzanne Tegen, Assistant Director, Center for the New Energy Economy

Bonus Clips

Suzanne Tegen, Assistant Director at the Center for the New Energy Economy, talks about the economic benefits of wind power in rural eastern Colorado. 

Colorado State Senator Bob Rankin on what environmentalism means to his constituents on the Western Slope.

Further Reading

Center for the New Energy Economy micro-documentary series, Clouds North Films, 2019.

"Upper Cretaceous (Campanian) coal resources of western Colorado," New Mexico Geological Survey, 1981.

"What ‘Clean Coal’ Is - and Isn’t," The New York Times, August 23, 2017.

IEA Global Energy Review 2021

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