Drake Fire – a Reminder to be Energy Efficient

Drake Fire

With the unfortunate fire at the Colorado Springs Martin Drake Power Plant, Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) is faced with an abrupt loss of base load electric power.  This could easily last into the summer air conditioning season with its peak load.  Now is a GREAT time for all CSU customers to take steps towards using less electricity.  Indeed, it is a good time for all of us to do so.

Here are just a few of the things you can do to help.

A great place to start is by going to CSU’s website and taking a look at its Average Comparison Tool.  This will show how your electrical usage compares to other customers.  https://www.csu.org/Pages/average-comparison.aspx

If you have not yet swapped out your incandescent light bulbs for compact florescent lights (CFLs), what are you waiting for?  CSU customers can even get instant rebates at local stores – https://www.csu.org/pages/lighting.aspx.  If you have been holding off because you don’t like the light quality or slow start of CFLs, you should check out the growing options for LED bulbs.  Although they still cost more than the old bulbs, the price is coming down quickly,  they last longer and use 10% of the energy of incandescents to produce what many think is a superior light.

If you need help figuring out what to do first, get your hands on a kill-a-watt meter.  These are available at local stores and on Amazon to purchase.  They can also be borrowed for free from Pikes Peak Libraries (https://www.csu.org/Pages/Kill-A-Watt-meters.aspx) and as part of a home energy kit from county extension offices (http://www.ext.colostate.edu/energy/heal/).

Plug your appliances into a kill-a-watt meter and it will show the watts used and record the kilowatt-hours used over time.  A real eye-opener is to plug in your entertainment system components when they are “off”.  It is not uncommon to find them drawing 20 W or more in the off state.  A simple power strip will enable you to turn them off completely and save this “phantom load”.

Often your refrigerator is the biggest electricity load in the house.  Since it runs intermittently, you need to plug it into the kill-a-watt meter and run it for a day.  Particularly if the frig is old or not Energy Star certified, you will likely be able to save a lot of energy with an upgrade.  Perhaps you did upgrade, but put the old one in the garage for the occasional party.  You might find that it is costing you more than you realized.

For MANY MORE tips on reducing your electricity use, see Colorado Springs Utilities’ website https://www.csu.org/pages/tips.aspx for tips for residential customers and here https://www.csu.org/Pages/bizrebates.aspx for energy efficiency rebates for business customers.

Colorado State University Extension also offers a lot of GREAT INFORMATION on energy use and efficiency http://www.ext.colostate.edu/energy/home.html.


Discovering the Future of Energy

Switch Poster


“Switch” Documentary Event

Discovering the Future of Energy

CSU-Pueblo Library, April 17th at 3:30 PM

Free and Open to the Public

The public is invited to attend “SWITCH”, hosted by The Colorado Renewable Energy Society and the ASME student section at CSU-Pueblo.  The feature of the event is the regional premier of an outstanding, nationally-acclaimed new energy documentary film entitled “SWITCH”.


This film thoughtfully addresses the question of “What will it really take to go from the energy sources that built our world to the energy sources that will shape our future?”  The film will be preceded by a brief informal networking period with light refreshments at 3:30 PM, and followed by a short, open discussion and opportunity to meet local energy-minded organizations after the film.  This film will begin promptly at 3:45 PM.


April 17th:  CSU-Pueblo Library Room LARC 109

2200 Bonforte Blvd., Pueblo, CO 81001  





More Information: Contact SECRES (secres@cres-energy.org)


Energy resources are undergoing profound changes.  Globally, regionally and locally we are gradually shifting from traditional energy sources to the energy sources of tomorrow.  This sweeping transition of our energy future is the subject of SWITCH.  The film takes the viewer on a spectacular global adventure, exploring the world’s leading sites for all energy types, including coal, oil, wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, natural gas, biofuels, and nuclear, and explores a practical path to how our energy future path may unfold.


SWITCH Documentary Q&A

Who sponsored airing of the Switch documentary in Colorado Springs?

Where can I find more information on Switch?

I was disturbed by the lack of detailed information on the negative environmental impacts in the film. In light of this, why did you show the film?

Is there a group I can meet with to find out ways to organize for more clean energy in El Paso County and make my voice heard?

What organizations in the Pikes Peak Region are involved in Clean Energy?

Why do I see some much about Colorado Springs Utilities and the Martin Drake Plant in the media?

How can I let Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) know that I’d like to see more clean energy?

What is the latest scientific analysis on climate change?

Where can I learn more about clean energy and energy efficiency?


Who sponsored airing of the Switch documentary in Colorado Springs?

The SouthEastern Colorado Renewable Energy Society (SECRES) and EnAct sponsored Switch in Colorado Springs.

EnAct, the oldest student group at Colorado College, began after Earth Day 1970. EnAct serves as a forum to raise environmental and social awareness through research, education, and action at CC and within the Colorado Springs community.  Contacts: Laurel Sebastian & Leo Stout

SECRES is the southeastern chapter of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society whose members come from the Arkansas River drainage – Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and the southeastern section of the state.  SECRES was founded in June 2003 to promote, educate and advocate for efficiency, and renewable energy. Website: www.secres.org Contact: Info at SECRES


Where can I find more information on Switch?

The Switch website has more information: http://www.switchenergyproject.com.  It is important to note the sources of funding here http://www.switchenergyproject.com/about/funding-and-content.


I was disturbed by the lack of detailed information on the negative environmental impacts in the film. In light of this, why did you show the film?

We are also disturbed by the environment impacts of oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear power. However, we feel Switch accurately represents the global energy path we are currently on. We very much want your help altering this path. Please join us on April 28th. See the following question.


Is there a group I can meet with to find out ways to organize for more clean energy in El Paso County and make my voice heard?

The Southeastern Colorado Renewable Energy Society (SECRES) is a local group who advocates for energy efficiency and renewable energy. Just send an email to secres@cres-energy.org to be added to our announcements of local events.

Please join a coalition of groups to develop the vision for the clean energy transition in El Paso County.

Monday, April 28th at 7 PM.

4755 Forge Road, Suite 170 (Door is marked for prior tenant, AKM Semiconductor),Colorado Springs, CO 80907, Tel. 719-510-3765

Go ½ mile west from I25 on Garden of the Gods. Turn right (north) on Forge. 4755 is located at the SE corner of Forge Road and Elkton Drive. Suite 170 is located on the East side of the building, at the SE corner.

RSVP secres@cres-energy.org


What organizations in the Pikes Peak Region are involved in Clean Energy?

The two sponsors are involved.  See above.

The Sierra Club is a nonprofit member supported, public interest organization that promotes conservation of the natural environment by influencing public policy decisions – legislative, administrative, legal, and electoral. The Club’s national priority is to move beyond fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) to a clean energy future. Locally, the Pikes Peak Group of the Sierra Club works with a coalition of partners to encourage local utilities to invest in renewable energy and plan for a clean energy future. To learn more about the Club’s national campaigns, visit www.sierraclub.org. To learn more about The Pikes Peak Group’s local efforts, contact Jane Ard-Smith, 719-351-2584, janeardsmith@comcast.net.<Jane>

Green Cities Coalition The purpose of the Green Cities Coalition is to promote ecologically, economically and socially healthy cities in El Paso County, for the benefit of present and future residents of the Pikes Peak region. We envision healthy, equitable and sustainable communities, both human and natural. Website: http://greencitiescoalition.net/

Peak Alliance for a Sustainable Future   Website: http://www.ppcf.org/products/peak-alliance-for-a-sustainable-future



Why do I see so much about Colorado Springs Utilities and the Martin Drake Plant in the media?

Colorado Springs City Council, which serves as the Utilities Board, commissioned a study on the decommissioning of the Martin Drake coal-fired power plant.  The public was invited to comment on the study process and report.  You can find information on the website http://www.draketaskforce.net/.  City Council is now considering the report and intends to state a policy direction later this year. 

The Utilities Policy Advisory Committee is a seven member committee of citizens appointed by the Utilities Board who develop policy recommendations.  They are currently working on a revision of the Utilities Energy Vision for 2020 which contains, among other things, a target for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Here are some key documents which contain a wealth of information on the Utility and Martin Drake:

Electric Integrated Resource Plan (EIRP) is the Utilities’ long range planning document for electric power generation.  It contains detailed background information as well as evaluation of alternatives.

Study of Alternatives Related to the Potential Decommissioning of the Martin Drake Power Plant is the independent consultants evaluation of alternatives for decommissioning the Drake power plant.

The public comment page of the Drake Study site contains a number of informed comments.


How can I let Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) know that I’d like to see more clean energy?

There are a number of people from various organizations interested in developing the vision for more clean energy.  Part of that vision involves recognition that the Drake plant has a limited life and looking at the implications of this in light of all the transition happening with energy generation in the USA today.  We invite you to help shape this vision starting at a meeting.  See above.

As a municipally owned utility, Colorado Spring’s City Council serves as CSU’s board of directors.  Their meetings are open to the public and brief, three-minute comments are heard at each meeting.  These can include a few presentation slides sent in advance to Dave Grossman dgrossman@csu.org.  See https://www.csu.org/Pages/ub-r.aspx for meeting times, agendas and minutes.  You can also contact City Council separately.

CSU has formed the Utilities Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC) which develops policies for the Utility.  Their meetings are open to the public and brief, five-minute comments are heard at each meeting.  See https://www.csu.org/Pages/upac-b.aspx for meeting times, agendas and minutes.


What is the latest scientific analysis on climate change?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”.  Their latest findings are “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis” available in a summarized format in Summary for Policy Makers which can be read quickly for the 19 key points.  The full report is also available here.  The IPCC just released “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability  – Summary for Policy Makers“ and it is available here.

James Hanson is an outspoken climate scientist, currently at Columbia University.  Dr. Hanson was one of the scientists to alert policy makers early to the impact of our green house gas emissions.  His recent book “Storms of My Grandchildren” is a very readable account of his concerns and attempts to communicate them to policy makers.  A recent white paper summarizes his current thinking – “Renewable Energy, Nuclear Power and Galileo: Do Scientists Have a Duty to Expose Popular Misconceptions?”.  In it he recognizes the Climate Change Lobby and their efforts for a revenue neutral carbon tax.

Of course no US personality is more associated with educating Americans on the impacts of climate change than Al Gore who won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with the IPCC.  The Climate Reality Project is focused on educating the public on the risks Mr. Gore so forcefully describes.

A recent development is the website http://climate.data.gov.  This is a portal into the data which NASA, NOAA and other US scientific organizations have on the impact of climate change to US citizens.  Initially, the information available is on the impact of sea level rise, but other impacts will follow.


Where can I learn more about clean energy and energy efficiency?

There are many sources on the web.  Here in our state, Colorado State University provides a wealth of information.  See their energy page.  If you are looking for general educational material with a Colorado focus, check out their Colorado Energy Masters program.  If you are interested from a consumer or home owner standpoint, their site provides links to informational material including a DIY home energy audit

The SE chapter of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society is another great source.  After last year’s Black Forest Fire, they provided free seminars to victims who lost their home and faced rebuilding.  These seminars covered all aspects of energy for the homeowner.  You can find links to the seminar presentations and many other links here.  You can also simply send questions in email to secres@cres-energy.org.

Join us 24-Mar for How to Ensure More Clean Energy in El Paso County

How to Ensure More Clean Energy in El Paso County

7 PM Monday, March 24, 2014

Aspire Biotech, Inc.

4755 Forge Rd, Suite 120

Colorado Springs, CO 80907

Tel. 719-522-9800


Go ½ mile west from I25 on Garden of the Gods.  Turn right (north) on Forge.  Aspire is at the corner of Forge and Elkton.



Recap March UPAC and Utilities Board meetings.

Report on city council town halls.

Discuss visits to City Council Members

Review status of Switch documentary plans

Tri-State Signs 25 Year Agreement for 150 MW of Wind

Tri-State Wind Farm


Tri-State has entered a power purchase agreement (PPA) for the entire output of a 150 MW wind farm operated by NextEra Energy Resources in eastern Colorado near Burlington.  It will be Tri-State’s larger wind PPA to date.  The  wind power will go to Tri-State’s 44 member  cooperatives across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.  Five of the six rural electrics in SECRES territory obtain power from Tri-State.

Read the Tri-State press release.