Tri-State retires Nucla Station

Tri-State Generation and Transmission officially retired its Nucla Station on Thursday after it used up the last of its coal supply last week.

In July, Tri-State announced that it would shutter the 100 megawatt coal-fired plant next year, roughly two years ahead of its previous plan to close the station in 2022. The station had its final run of power generation between July 11 and Sept 9, Tri-State announced in a news release.

By closing the station, Tri-State meets its deadline for ending plant operations under Colorado’s regional haze visibility state implementation plan. Tri-State has already shut down a nearby coal plant and was only using the station as needed to supplement other power supplies.

As part of the closure, Tri-State will provide $500,000 over the next five years in community support to help with the retirement. The plant has 35 employees.

“While our generating station has been a significant part of Nucla and Naturita communities for many years, it made the most sense to come offline at this time in a controlled fashion, while maintaining compliance with all of our federal and state environmental regulations,” Tri-State CEO Duane Highley said in a press release. “We will support the remaining employees at the plant and the community during this transitional period of decommissioning and dismantling the facility.”

Tri-State spokesman Mark Stutz said the majority of employees have found new employment, but some will stay on board through the decommissioning and dismantling process that should go through the end of next year.

Nucla Station, which opened in 1959, was the world’s first utility-scale power plant to use a combustion system that captured more sulfur dioxide emissions and reduced nitrogen dioxide, a technology that is still used today.

Tri-State announced the early closure of Nucla Station as part of its Responsible Energy Plan, which it will pursue to transition into a cleaner energy portfolio and increase member flexible to, it hopes, lower wholesale rates.