Review of HDR's Analysis of the Martin Drake Power Plant
Martin Drake units 5, 6, and 7 are three coal-fired electric generators owned by Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) located in downtown Colorado Springs. CSU commissioned the independent consulting firm HDR to guide the utility's decision regarding whether and in what year to retire each Drake unit, taking into account expensive environmental retrofits that would be required if Drake were to continue to operate. Synapse reviewed HDR's report, which considers various multi-year investment alternatives based on sustainable return on investment (SROI) and financial return on investment (FROI). Synapse found a number of opportunities to improve the assumptions and inputs used in HDR’s FROI analysis, including revising load, coal price, and natural gas price forecasts; accounting for site remediation and the operating costs associated with a carbon price; and considering the likelihood of higher capital costs for retrofits. On behalf of Sierra Club, Synapse summarized the recommendations in a report distributed to the Martin Drake Citizen Task Force, a group commissioned by the Colorado Springs City Council to assess the viability of the power plant.