COLORADO PLANNED TO LEASE STATE LAND TO UTAH POWER COMPANY FOR A NATURAL GAS PLANT. THEN PROTESTS SURFACED ~ The Colorado Sun

Deseret Power seeks Colorado public land near Rangely for a 50 megawatt generating station, but green groups are attacking the idea of more subsidized fossil fuel burning 

Michael Booth

Apr 12, 2023

Rangely, Colorado, from above. (Rio Blanco Herald Times)

Colorado officials abruptly withdrew a proposal to lease state public land near Rangely for a Utah power company’s 50 megawatt gas-fired electric plant after environmental groups’ and media questions about why the Polis administration would support new energy generated by fossil fuels.  

The 30-year land lease at $10,000 a year to Utah’s Deseret Power co-op was recommended by staff at the Colorado State Land Board, which is appointed by Polis and organized under the Department of Natural Resources. The only other financial term mentioned is a 3% annual increase to the payment.  

Deseret Power serves about 2,300 northwestern Colorado customers from its current power supplies across the border in Utah. The co-op did not return messages seeking comment on the Rangely project.

The land board pulled a vote for approving the staff recommendation of the Rangely lease from the agenda for its monthly board meeting Wednesday and Thursday, to give the agency time to “thoughtfully consider the handful of public comments we recently received,” land board spokeswoman Kristin Kemp said. 

The board declined a request for an interview that could explain how the detailed, six-page recommendation was developed and then scrapped at the last minute. 

“We don’t yet know if or when this topic will be placed on a future agenda,” Kemp said.

The Land Board is meant to steward and generate income from millions of acres of land given to Colorado by federal agencies since statehood in 1876. The board controls 2.8 million surface acres and 4 million acres of underground mineral rights. Most of the proceeds go to support Colorado public schools. 

Land Board projects are often sought to support local economic development efforts, especially in areas like Rangely that are challenged by decline in the fossil fuels industries or agricultural income. 

The land board staff was asking board members to approve a long-term lease for 5 acres on the edge of Rangely already served by transmission lines. The state said it acquired the parcel “through a trade with the U.S. Department of Interior in 1983.”

~~~ CONTINUE WITH THE COLORADO SUN ~~~

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