Photo Credit: Colorado Springs Utilities
I attended the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) Energy Planning Workshop on January 29. It started promptly at 6 PM. It was slated to run until 8 PM and I left at about 7:30 PM. It was a well-orchestrated presentation by CSU. Attendance was estimated to be about 300 people including 25 utility staff members. Two utility board members were in attendance: City Councilmen Wayne Williams and Don Knight. Of the nine Utilities Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC) members, four were in attendance.
No questions were allowed in the presentation. Previous citizen input was presented to the audience, along with recent citizen energy survey results. Energy vision pillars were defined in five categories —cost, reliability, environmental stewardship, innovation, and resiliency. CSU had five stations revolving around the implementation and vision of these five categories. See more information about CSU’s Energy Vision plans here.
Watching how this meeting unfolded, it made me think of being presented with a cake that had already been made. Behind the scenes and away from our eyes, a cake mix had been purchased, the ingredients were combined, the cake was baked, and iced. CSU didn’t need or necessarily want any of our involvement during its creation. It was clear to me that CSU had made up its mind on electric production prior to the workshop. They want a carbon free, non-fossil fuel, electric generation model. The cake was baked.
I asked the staff if, at the next presentation, they could do a cost analysis of fossil fuel (coal and natural gas) with a cost comparison per kilowatt to that of green energy (solar and/or wind). They could not answer the question.
As I left the event, a very large bus from Colorado College pulled up in the parking lot. Its purpose was to pick up the 50 or more college kids who attended the workshop. During the workshop, I had spied them gathering around an environmental stewardship poster for a group photo opportunity. After graduation, will these college students stay in the community to work and live? They are here to determine the outcome of Colorado Springs Utility’s future direction. I doubt they have ever paid a utility bill.
UPAC meetings are the first Wednesday of each month at 8 a.m. in the Blue River Board Room on the fifth floor of the South Tower in the Plaza of the Rockies (121 S. Tejon Street). All meetings are open to the public. Citizens are invited to comment during general discussion near the end of each meeting. Also, CSU’s Energy Vision Team can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. No doubt they would love to hear your input and questions on their Energy plans for Colorado Springs.