DALLAS - A year after fire forced Colorado Springs to take the Martin Drake Power Plant off line, the coal-fueled plant near downtown is completely restored, the city-owned utility reported.
"Drake is now back to being one of the most cost-efficient power generating options in our energy portfolio and producing one-third of our community's energy needs," the city said in a May 5 report.
The city increased its electric cost adjustment rate after the fire to cover additional fuel costs while Drake was completely out of service. The higher fuel costs came to about $3 million, the city said.
"This additional fuel cost is attributed to the fact that natural gas is almost twice as much as coal, and we are mostly relying on our natural-gas fired power without Drake online," the city said. "However, as promised, decreases to the ECA were approved after each unit was brought back online," the report said.
The fire started on May 5, 2014, at approximately 9:40 a.m. and was declared under control at 12:42 p.m. All employees were safely evacuated, and there were no major injuries. As a precaution, a five block radius around the plant was also evacuated for about four hours.
The fire was traced to leaking lubricating oil that ignited, according to the Colorado Springs Fire Department.
As a result of the fire, more than 22,000 customers were without power for 35 to 40 minutes until restoration was complete.
The plant has been a target of environmentalists seeking to eliminate coal as a fuel source.
The utility is rated AA by Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings, and Aa2 by Moody's Investors Service