January 25, 2023 - County commissioners have approved $3,000 for the Northwest Colorado Energy Summit scheduled for Craig in June, where local and state leaders plan to present information about the coal transition and ask important questions that remain unanswered.
Commissioner Donald Broom said Moffat County was approached by Joint Organizations Leading Transition, or JOLT, to support the Northwest Colorado Energy Summit on June 2 at the Quality Inn in Craig.
Broom proposed a $3,000 sponsorship, saying he thought it would be an appropriate level of support from the county. Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the sponsorship.
Tri-State's Craig Station power plant plans to sunset its three generation stacks in 2025, 2028 and 2030. The Northwest Colorado Energy Summit is being planned for June in Craig. During the summit, local and state leaders plan to present information about the coal transition.
Photo: Amber Delay, Craig Press
“With the coal impacted community that we have, we think that this will be a good partnership with (JOLT). There are some local (Western Slope) people involved,” Broom said.
Ray Beck, a JOLT representative and former Moffat County commissioner, said over the phone Tuesday, Jan. 24, that JOLT began about a year ago and has built up to this summit. The initiative started with conversations between Beck and Rose Pugliese, a former Mesa County commissioner who now serves as a Colorado state representative from El Paso County.
“Our mission is simple,” Beck said. “It’s just three words — advocate, communication and educate.”
Along with Beck and Pugliese, there are a handful of other core committee members who have been involved in the initiative and planning the summit, including Sue Hansen, a Montrose County commissioner; Mandy Miller, who works with NextEra, which deals primarily with renewable energies; Matt Shuler, editor of the Jackson Star in Walden; Lisa Jones, president of Colorado Northwestern Community College; and former state Sen. Bob Rankin.
The committee has had people come to speak about many topics, such as other uses for coal and about nuclear energy. Beck said the conversations started to get bigger than just the JOLT committee, so they decided to host the Northwest Colorado Energy Summit.
Beck said the committee hopes to get information out through the summit, which is nonpartisan and will involve local and state elected leaders.
“We all know in the next seven years our power plant and coal companies will be shut down, as it’s been mandated,” Beck said. “When you ask anyone in town about what it’s going to be like after coal, I don’t think anyone has the answer.”
Beck explained there will be major reductions in revenue for the local municipalities from the loss of tax payments from the coal mines, power plant and parallel industries.
“If you lost up to 60% of your budget in any industry or business, would you be able to survive?” Beck said. “That’s the question we need to be asking.”
JOLT is still finalizing the agenda and speakers, but the lineup will include several committee members and a representative from Tri-State, in addition to Former Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt and Melissa Simpson from SEMPRA in Washington, D.C.
Shuler will offer a presentation covering how energy is made, while Meteorologist Don Day will present on climate topics, students from the University of Wyoming will present on other uses of coal and carbon, and Rankin will talk about the energy initiative he has been working on.
At the end of the day, the summit will host a panel with some of the speakers to do a Q&A on all of the energy discussions.
“I don’t want to look back five or 10 years from now and think we could have done more,” Beck said.
Beck said the budget for the summit is about $11,000, which will include the event facility rental, food and beverage for attendees, and lodging assistance for summit speakers who will be traveling from outside the area. Beck said several other municipalities have committed to sponsorships or shown support for the summit as well.
JOLT has reached out to Routt County, the Just Transition and other local partners to partner in the summit. Organizers are hoping to attract 150 attendees. Registration is expected to be $20 and will be available online at a later date.