Bill would extend life of Cameo power plant

A bill that made it out of a House committee Tuesday would keep the Cameo Station power plant east of Grand Junction open eight months longer than currently scheduled.

Introduced by Republican Reps. Steve King of Grand Junction and Laura Bradford of Coll-bran, House Bill 1282 is designed to prevent about 100 jobs associated with the plant from going away.

Xcel Energy, owner of the 50-year-old coal-burning plant, plans to close it at the end of this year. Before that happens, though, the company is using it as an experiment to test the use of solar power in operating such facilities.

King and Bradford said they agree the plant needs to close, but the lawmakers wanted to extend its life a bit longer. That’s because owners of the McClane Canyon Mine, which exclusively feeds the plant, are in the process of expanding into a new mine. But that’s not due to happen until mid-2011.

If the plant closed in December, miners and truck drivers who work at McClane would be laid off until the new mine opens, the lawmakers said.

To prevent those layoffs, the bill delays closure of Cameo until August 2011. The bill now heads to the House floor for more debate.


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