Colorado Springs Utilities didn’t waste any time when it got the go-ahead to continue to install an emissions control technology at the Martin Drake Power Plant downtown.
The city-owned utility spent nearly $1.3 million on the NeuStream sulfur dioxide scrubber system at Drake days after the Utilities Board decided to move forward with installing the technology despite calls from Mayor Steve Bach for a timeout.
During Thursday’s State of the City luncheon, Bach signaled he’s not giving up.
“I think we should have a community conversation on ownership and on governance and yes, on Martin Drake,” Bach told a crowd of about 750 gathered at the Antlers Hilton downtown.
“I think it should involve all of us, not just City Council,” he said, drawing applause.
In an interview afterward, Bach said the council, which doubles as the Utilities Board, might be hearing from Colorado Springs residents.
“They may find a groundswell of community interest to affect a hiatus,” Bach said. “We’ll see how it works out.”
It’s unclear if the purchases exceed $1.3 million.
On July 31, The Gazette asked the communications office of the billion-dollar-plus enterprise for purchases related to the scrubbers following the board’s July 18 vote.
“Since the vote to move ahead with the Drake scrubbers, we have spent or committed approximately $1.3 million on additional equipment purchases and progress payments on previously ordered equipment,” spokeswoman Natilia Sibert said in an email.
“Including the $1.3 million, to date, we’ve spent about $74 million on Neumann at Drake, to include testing the technology since 2008. Overall we expect the cost to be one third less than conventional scrubber technology,” she said.
The Gazette requested a list of the purchases, and Sibert said Aug. 1 that it would take about a week to gather the information from Neumann Systems Group, which invented the technology and is testing it out at Drake.
Sibert didn’t provide the list until Friday.
When asked whether there had been other related expenses since she provided the information last month, Sibert responded: “What I sent you is what I have at this time. There may be more to share later.”