Tri-State Moves to Retire Rifle Combined Cycle Power Plant

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a wholesale power supply cooperative with 45 members in four states—Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Wyoming—announced its intentions to retire the Rifle Station, an 85-MW combined cycle facility in Rifle, Colorado.

The announcement was made on April 5 in conjunction with a filing with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). If approved, the plant would be closed “on or about Oct. 6, 2022,” Tri-State said.

The Rifle plant runs infrequently, according to the cooperative, because “sufficient and lower-cost resources” are available to serve member power requirements. The station reportedly would need “significant investments” to continue operating.

“The decision to retire Rifle Station comes as we transition to cleaner resources and reduce our wholesale rates,” Tri-State CEO Duane Highley said in a statement. “We appreciate our Rifle employees’ commitment and service through the years, and will be working with them to ease the impact of this transition.”

In January, Tri-State reached an agreement with more than two dozen parties on Phase I of its 2020 Electric Resource Plan (ERP), which was before the CPUC at the time. In the settlement, Tri-State agreed to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions related to its wholesale electricity sales in Colorado by 26% in 2025, 36% in 2026, 46% in 2027, and 80% in 2030, based on Tri-State’s 2005 emissions baseline for wholesale sales in Colorado.

As part of that settlement, Tri-State also agreed to issue a request for proposals later this year to solicit bids for renewable and storage resources to come online through 2026. Tri-State added generation from two new wind projects in 2021, totaling 304 MW. In November last year, 40% of the electricity consumed by Tri-State’s members came from renewable resources. The coop said it will add six additional solar projects by 2024, when 50% of the energy consumed by its members is expected to be from renewables.

The Rifle station came online in 1987. Tri-State began purchasing power from the plant in 1992 and bought the facility in 2002.

In announcing the decision to retire the Rifle plant, Tri-State said its board of directors had approved a donation of $50,000 for local economic development to the Rifle Regional Economic Development Corp. The funds are expected to be used to promote economic development activity in the Colorado River Valley, with a goal of attracting businesses and industries to the area. The Rifle plant has four employees, who Tri-State said it will support through the transition.

Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine).

SHARE this article