Drake plant debate takes a personal turn
A debate is raging over the future of the Martin Drake Power Plant near Colorado Springs, CO. In a recent newsletter, city councilman Tim Leigh is reported to have openly questioned the credibility of emissions reductions technologies being used and studied at the plant.
Although the city council signed an $73.5 million contract with Neuman Systems last year to build emissions reduction equipment for the power plant, Leigh is apparently now having second thoughts. In two recent newsletters, Leigh attacked the Neuman technology as “too experimental,” and appeared to imply that the developer of the Neuman technology, David Neuman, was playing the role of Professor Harold Hill to the city council. Hill was of course the central character in the popular movie and Broadway show, the Music Man. He was a con man who tricked small towns into buying expensive musical instruments and uniforms with a promise to their kids to play musical instruments and then planned to disappear just before their band was to play before the town.
Neuman responded to Leigh’s charges by questioning whether Leigh, a real estate developer, stood to benefit financially from the plant closure and possible redevelopment of the power plant site.
If the testing on the Neuman technology – which has so far been successful at a 20 MW scale – is able to scale up, the plant could be able to meet the growing list of EPA and state environmental regulations. Having signed a contract with Neuman, the city could also benefit from the sale of the technology to other coal-fueled power plants. However, as Leigh’s letters noted, the technology is still in testing and questions remain about the total cost of the system. There are potential costs and benefits to the system and with the battle raging on, it remains to be seen how the City Council, Neuman, and the Drake Plant will work these issues out.
Read the rest of the article in the Colorado Springs Gazette.