Celebrating 60 years of reliable power generation
September 19, 2019
When a person retires, we celebrate all they’ve accomplished over their career. This week we’re retiring a power plant, and I’d like to mark the event with the same spirit of celebration.
Nucla Station completed its final run last week and came offline at 9:19 a.m. on 9/9/19. Over the few days Nucla Station was physically disconnected from the grid and today, 9/19/19, Nucla Station is officially retired from service. When making megawatts is what you do, it’s hard to close a power plant. But it’s about much more than just the physical plant – everything that’s been accomplished at Nucla Station over the years is about the people.
When I joined Tri-State 15 years ago, one of the things that stood out to me was the pride our employees take in their work. We have people who’ve been with the company for 40 years or more, because they’re that committed to the importance of the work we do.
The Nucla team shows that commitment every day. The team has made it their focus over the years to not only operate and maintain the plant efficiently and safely, but to bring the kind of teamwork to their job every day that makes work enjoyable.
They’ve taken on challenges and have led the way for new technology in our industry. Nucla Station was the world’s first utility-scale power plant constructed using circulating fluidized bed boiler technology (CFB). One of the advantages of that technology was its ability to burn a wide range of fuels efficiently. The combustion process also controlled emissions without the need for external emissions controls.
When Tri-State acquired Colorado-Ute Electric Association in 1992, we became the owner and operator of Nucla Station. Tri-State saw the value of the facility and invested in improvements to help increase efficiency and reliability. We also secured a fuel source for the plant through the New Horizon Mine, also located in Nucla.
Nucla played a key role in our ability to provide reliable, affordable, responsible power for decades. When the decision was made to close the plant, it was not one that was taken lightly. We’re in a complex industry, and as we plan for the future of Tri-State, there are a lot of factors that play into what our generation portfolio will look like.
We announced in 2016 that we would be moving toward the closure of Nucla Station, and we’re now at the point where we transition from generating power to decommissioning the plant. But the spirit of the work is the same – the team is taking a thoughtful and diligent approach to this task. Even though they’re not making megawatts, the work of this team is hugely valued in the responsible closure of the plant over the coming months.
We’re also committed to supporting the community in the years to come, with $500,000 in funds being provided over the next five years for economic development initiatives. It’s been our honor to be an employer in the community for 27 years.
Nucla Station was originally built in 1959, so we’re celebrating the 60 successful years the plant was in operation. We’re also celebrating the role this plant has played in the community over those years, the model of innovation that it has been, but most importantly the dedication of the people who have worked days and nights to keep the lights on. My gratitude for their commitment cannot be adequately expressed in words.