Tag Archive for 'Colowyo mine'

Colowyo Mine says ‘thanks’ with checks to local communities

Meekerchk250On Nov. 10 and Nov. 23, respectively, Chris McCourt, manager of western Colorado’s Colowyo Coal Mine, presented a check for $15,000 to the Craig City Council and a donation of $5,000 to the Rio Blanco County Commissioners (pictured) in Meeker as a way of showing gratitude for the many years of support of the mine by the residents of these Western Slope communities.

“Many of our 220 employees at the mine are proud to call the towns of Meeker and Craig home and are gratified to know that their friends, neighbors and local businesses support the work that we do at the mine to responsibly help provide affordable electricity to Coloradoans,” said McCourt during his presentation to the Rio Blanco County Commissioners. “This check is our way of saying thanks for your longstanding support,” he added.

Located approximately half way between Craig (in Moffat County) and Meeker (in Rio Blanco County) on State Highway 13, Colowyo Mine currently supplies more than half of the coal needed to operate the 1,311-megawatt Craig Station near Craig. Nearly 200 Colowyo employees live in Moffat County or Rio Blanco County, and the mine has an estimated $206 million economic impact on the region. Colowyo Mine is owned and operated by Western Fuels-Colo., a wholly owned subsidiary of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.


Watch “The people behind the power” mining video

Miner&son250Tri-State takes a great deal of pride in the men and women who safely and efficiently operate its mines in Colorado. Take a look at this short video (less than 7 minutes) and learn more about how these miners, their families and the local community business owners view the operations at Tri-State’s coal mines and the important role that they play in helping us keep the lights on for thousands of consumers across the West.

Colowyo Mine Plan approved by U.S. Department of the Interior

  • Federal government completes court ordered review within 120-day deadline
  • New mine plan replaces challenged plan
  • Environmental assessment finds no significant environmental impact from mining operations

Colowyo251The U.S. Department of the Interior has approved and signed a modified mine plan for Colowyo Mine, which was subject to a federal district court order requiring the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) to update its environmental review of the mine.

In addition to the new mining plan, on August 31, 2015, the OSM completed a new environmental assessment for the mine, resulting in a finding of no significant impact on the environment from mining operations.

The approval of the new mine plan completes the effort by OSM to comply with the court’s May 8, 2015, order to complete the environmental review within 120 days. OSM’s counsel has notified the court that it has completed the environmental review and approved a modified mining plan.

“We are grateful to the staff at the Office of Surface Mining and the other cooperating agencies for their diligence and hard work to complete the environmental review within the short timeframe ordered by the judge,” said Mike McInnes, chief executive officer of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which owns Colowyo Mine through its subsidiary, Colowyo Coal Company.

“The unwavering support we have received from our 220 mine employees, the community and elected officials across Colorado helped ensure the Department of the Interior, from Secretary Jewell down, committed the resources and time necessary to complete this important work,” added McInnes.

Colowyo Coal Company believes the new mine plan allows the mine to continue to operate and the completion of the environmental assessment, finding of no significant impact and mine plan will satisfy the court, but it is uncertain how the court will proceed.

“The approval of the new plan should provide our employees and the residents of Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties with the confidence to move forward and focus on the future,” said Chris McCourt, Colowyo Mine’s manager.

Colowyo Coal Company is owned by Tri-State, which purchased the Colowyo Mine in 2011. Tri-State is a not-for-profit wholesale power supplier to 44 electric cooperatives and public power districts that serves 1.5 million members throughout 200,000 square-miles of Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Colowyo Mine a strong supporter of youth recreation on its property


Colowyo Mine staff has supported youth hunts and recreation for groups like these since the 1990s.

Colowyo Mine staff has supported youth hunts and recreation for groups like these since the 1990s.

Owned and operated by Tri-State’s subsidiary Western Fuels-Colorado, the Colowyo Mine encompasses a vast tract of property that spans over nearly 140,000 acres of land.

This land supports not only one of Colorado’s largest surface coal mines, but also vast tracts of undisturbed land, abundant natural resources, diverse wildlife and a number of farming and ranching operations that are currently leasing land from the mine.

So, it comes as no surprise that as good stewards of the land and strong supporters of their surrounding communities, the mine staff has a long history of helping to sponsor and support youth recreation programs on mine property.

“Over the years, working with the Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) staff and our land lessees, we have supported multiple supervised youth hunts on our property as well as other recreational events such as CPW’s “Cast and Blast” program, where local kids are given the opportunity to go fly fishing and trap shooting on Colowyo’s mine property,” said Tonia Folks, land specialist at the western Colorado mine.

In the latest sponsored youth hunt, held on mine property over the weekend of Oct 24-26, up to 10 young hunters enjoyed a successful outing in search of cow elk.

In late September, three local teens were selected to participate in the first mentored waterfowl hunt on mine property.  “Colowyo Mine and lessee Duke Duzik were gracious enough to offer us access to the Big Bottom property,“ said District Wildlife Officer Evan Jones in a recent Craig Daily Press article. “In addition, the generosity of my fellow officers and the Moffat County Youth 4-H shooting program all helped to provide these kids with an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives,” he added.

These supervised hunts are part of CPW’s Hunter Outreach Program, an ongoing effort to encourage women and youths to head outdoors and enjoy the state’s abundant natural resources.

“The next set of youth hunting adventures on mine property will be in December, when the CPW staff will assist local youths in harvesting cow elk,” said Folks.

Colowyo Mine is one of two fuel suppliers to Tri-State’s Craig Station. The mining operation employs about 220 people and is located approximately 10 miles north of Meeker, Colo.

Western Fuels – Colorado mines take top honors for safety, reclamation and innovation

Employees of both the New Horizon and the Colowyo mines can be especially proud of their operations, which received multiple awards and honors last week (April 15-17) at the Colorado Mining Association’s 116th National Western Mining Conference & Exhibition held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Both mines are owned and operated by Western Fuels-Colorado, a subsidiary company owned by Tri-State.

New Horizon Mine, which supplies Tri-State’s Nucla Station, was honored for safety, reclamation and environmental practices.

New Horizon Mine, which supplies Tri-State’s Nucla Station, was honored for safety, reclamation and environmental practices.

The National Western Mining Conference attracted nearly 1,000 attendees from throughout the mining industry and 110 exhibitors, including the ‘Keep Electricity Affordable’ campaign booth. The three-day mining event featured industry experts providing their views on the many challenges and opportunities facing the industry.

At the conference, Lee Boughey, senior manager of communications and public affairs, provided a presentation on Tri-State, its subsidiary mining operations and the importance of coal in Tri-State’s energy mix in assuring that the G&T continues to provide affordable power to its member systems.

Both Tri-State and Western Fuels-Colorado served as premiere sponsors of this year’s mining conference. Continue reading ‘Western Fuels – Colorado mines take top honors for safety, reclamation and innovation’

Western Fuels-Colorado now has an online presence

Visit www.westernfuelscolorado.org to learn more about Tri-State’s mining subsidiary operations.

Visit www.westernfuelscolorado.org to learn more about Tri-State’s mining subsidiary operations.

Through its management of the Colowyo and New Horizon mines, Tri-State subsidiary Western Fuels-Colorado has a productive and readily apparent presence on the landscape of the company’s service territory. With the launch of a new web site this month, Western Fuels-Colorado now has an online presence as well.

The new site, at www.WesternFuelsColorado.org, was developed by Tri-State’s communications team to help brand not only the subsidiary, but also the mining facilities themselves. With photographs and concise copy, the web site provides a location where the public, prospective employees, members of the media and others interested in learning more about the operations at Colowyo and New Horizon can go for information.

“The work done by Western Fuels-Colorado and the employees at our mining properties is essential to the success of Tri-State and its member systems,” said Mike Sorensen, senior manager of fuel and water resources. “And as hard as we have worked over the last few years to fully integrate Colowyo and New Horizon into the association’s operations and processes, at the same time we want to make sure Western Fuels-Colorado establishes an online identity and has a channel for sharing appropriate information.”

“On behalf of the team at Western Fuels-Colorado, I want to thank all of our colleagues who helped with this project – particularly Rachel Jaakkola, a rotation employee in employee services, who contributed significantly to the web site development during her time in the communications and public affairs department.”

Tri-State employees brave brutal cold to keep the lights on — and win

Tri-State Pueblo-based linemen Reid Kelley (left) and Walter Greene work on a frosted structure on the Axil Basin to Hayden 138-kV line.

Tri-State Pueblo-based linemen Reid Kelley (left) and Walter Greene work on a frosted structure on the Axil Basin to Hayden 138-kV line.

The unofficial creed of the U.S. Postal Service claims that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” will prevent the mail from being delivered. Why “bitter cold” didn’t make the list is unclear, but any motto drafted for Tri-State employees who must venture outdoors to help keep the lights on would certainly describe their willingness to brave cruel winter weather.

During the recent brutal cold spell – during which temperatures around the association’s service territory plummeted to depths such as 2 below (Chama, N.M.), 12 below (Riverton, Wyo.), 16 below (Henry, Neb.) and even 36 below (Craig, Colo.) – no components of the Tri-State system experienced weather-related outages.

This was thanks, in part, to the hardy men and women who were undaunted by the conditions and continued to perform their operations and maintenance roles at the company’s generating plants, mining properties and transmission facilities.

“With more than a foot of snow and wind that helped drop the temperatures to 36 below zero in the area, our staff braved it all to keep the lights on,” noted Craig Station plant manager Rick Johnson. Continue reading ‘Tri-State employees brave brutal cold to keep the lights on — and win’

Colowyo employees operate “Heavy Metal Monsters” on Weather Channel

A Weather Channel cameraman captures some of the action at Colowyo Mine as a 240-ton haul truck lumbers by.

A Weather Channel cameraman captures some of the action at Colowyo Mine as a 240-ton haul truck lumbers by.

The long-awaited airing of a workplace reality TV program called “Heavy Metal Monsters,” featuring employees working at Colowyo Mine in western Colorado, is scheduled to air on the Weather Channel on Monday evening, Oct. 7.

The 30-minute show will run at 7 p.m. on many of the region’s cable television and satellite systems. However, check your local listings, as the exact time of airing by some providers may vary between 6 and 8 p.m.

The Weather Channel program’s three-member production crew visited Tri-State’s subsidiary-owned Colowyo Mine last March to film a segment on the men and woman who operate some of the world’s largest industrial machines — in this case, to extract and ship 2.3 million tons of coal a year to Tri-State’s 1,311-megawatt Craig Station, located about 27 miles northeast of the massive mine operation.

“The crew, which has filmed large equipment all over the world, was very impressed with the equipment we have here at our site,” recalls Mike Gush, Colowyo’s senior health and safety specialist. Gush and Stephen Laramore, the mine’s safety and health manager, coordinated the film crew’s visit at the mine and made sure they stayed out of harm’s way during their four days of filming. Continue reading ‘Colowyo employees operate “Heavy Metal Monsters” on Weather Channel’

Board and guests tour Colowyo Mine and Craig Station

Nearly 100 Tri-State and member co-op directors, staff and affiliated guests hit the road earlier this week (July 8-9) for a two-day field trip to northwest Colorado to tour the Colowyo Mine and Craig Station.

Board and guests were treated to a bus tour of the Colowyo Mine. Shown is one of the 240-ton haul trucks at the site.

Board and guests were treated to a bus tour of the Colowyo Mine. Shown is one of the 240-ton haul trucks at the site.

For many of the directors and membership guests, this was their first opportunity to gain a first-hand look at the state’s largest surface coal mine, which was acquired by Western Fuels-Colorado, a Tri-State subsidiary, near the end of 2011. Colowyo Mine is one of two fuel suppliers to Tri-State’s nearby 1,311-megawatt Craig Station.

The Tri-State-sponsored visit to Colowyo Mine kicked off Monday afternoon with a motor coach tour of the vast operation. Employees of the mine boarded the two guest buses and provided an overview of mine operations and equipment, as well as fielding questions during the 90-minute tour.

The Colowyo Mine is located about 10 miles north of Meeker and is electrically-served by Tri-State member system White River Electric Association (Meeker, Colo.). Continue reading ‘Board and guests tour Colowyo Mine and Craig Station’

Once again, Craig Station employees lead Moffat County United Way giving

Craig-Station-United-WayThanks in large part to Tri-State’s Craig Station, Trapper Mining, Colowyo Mine and Twentymile Coal Co. and their employees, Moffat County is in the top 10 percent of United Way donations per capita in the entire nation.

The companies were among those honored Feb. 26 during the United Way’s annual awards luncheon in Craig. Tri-State was recognized for the sixth consecutive year as the largest single donor during the 2012 fundraising cycle, contributing $87,334 to the local United Way chapter.

Craig Station maintenance planner/scheduler Steve Martin serves as president of the Moffat County United Way board. “Craig Station has increased our donations every year for the past five years,” he said. “The younger employees have really stepped up and it’s a big source of pride for us.”

Funds raised for United Way are distributed to local agencies such as Boys and Girls Club of Craig and the Moffat County Cancer Society to fund programs that better the health, education and quality of living for community members.

A total of $460,000 was raised by the community in 2012. Tri-State policy allows employees’ pre-tax donations to United Way to be matched dollar for dollar.

Western Fuels-Colorado recognized with CMA awards

CMA president Stuart Sanderson recognized Colowyo and New Horizon mines during an awards ceremony at the association’s annual meeting.

CMA president Stuart Sanderson recognized Colowyo and New Horizon mines during an awards ceremony at the association’s annual meeting.

The Colorado Mining Association (CMA) held its 115th National Western Conference Feb. 24-27 in conjunction with the 2013 Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration (SME) annual meeting at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

The four-day event drew 7,000 registrants from around the world and featured continuing education courses, field trips to area mines, 600 exhibitors, student activities and competitions, awards presentations and more.

Several of those awards were presented to mines owned and managed by Western Fuels-Colorado, a Tri-State subsidiary.

Colowyo Mine in Moffat County was honored with the award for outstanding reclamation at the CMA Environmental Stewardship Awards banquet. CMA noted that Colowyo has set a standard for excellence for ongoing reclamation efforts and innovative topsoil replacement techniques.

New Horizon Mine in Montrose County received top honors at the CMA Safety Awards program. The mine has a record of zero injuries resulting in time lost since Sept. 10, 2010. Stuart Sanderson, CMA president, told the award winners, “You exemplify the very best in safety achievement.” Continue reading ‘Western Fuels-Colorado recognized with CMA awards’

Tri-State celebrates 60 years in the cooperative spirit (part 2)

Read part one of Powering the West’s look back at the first 60 years of Tri-State.

By the late 1970s, Tri-State had embarked on two major power project investments that to this day comprise more than half of the association’s owned baseload capacity. Craig Station, which at that time was operated by Colorado-Ute, completed its third unit in 1984 and Laramie River Station, operated by Basin Electric, completed a similar three-unit coal-based facility in 1982.

By the late 1970s construction of what would become Tri-State's flagship generating station was in full swing. Today, about 300 employees work at Craig Station.

The 1980s brought some of the G&T’s greatest challenges, not the least of which was an economic downturn that reduced member growth and demand dramatically,  just when its new baseload units were coming on line.

To generate revenue for the power that was temporarily not required by its members, the G&T launched a progressive marketing strategy to sell the new generation from Craig and LRS by seeking out other utilities, aligning itself with regional power pools and tapping into outside energy markets. That strategy paid off and by 1984 Tri-State reported positive margins and dramatically improved its financial picture.

The association also faced a landmark legal challenge during the mid-1980s, with Pacific Power & Light’s attempt to buy out former Tri-State member Shoshone River Power (Cody, Wyo.). The dispute brought into question the validity of the all-requirements contracts that Tri-State holds with its member systems.

Many industry leaders and proponents of consumer-owned power were concerned that the future of electric co-ops might hang in the balance if the sellout by the co-op was allowed to take place. It took nearly four years, but a settlement favorable to Tri-State was reached in 1989. Continue reading ‘Tri-State celebrates 60 years in the cooperative spirit (part 2)’

Latest issue of Network magazine features Colowyo mine, sixth graders

The latest edition of Tri-State’s quarterly magazine – Network – is hot off the presses.  The spring 2012 edition includes a feature on Colowyo Mine, which was recently acquired by Tri-State as a long-term fuel source for the G&T.

Also featured is a unique energy-efficiency project by Tri-State member Morgan County REA (Fort Morgan, Colo.) that involves $1,000 saved per month for a family-run dairy near Wiggins, Colo. Readers will also learn how sixth graders at a school in Hotchkiss, Colo., took part in a national competition to create a real-life learning experience based on energy. The school is served electrically by Delta-Montrose Electric Association (Montrose, Colo.).

A message on celebrating the cooperative spirit from Ken Anderson, Tri-State’s executive vice president and general manager, and coverage of recent carbon capture activity at Trapper Mine are also included in the current issue. Network magazine is Tri-State’s quarterly publication that tells the stories of the people and communities of the G&T and its 44 member rural electric cooperatives. The current issue of Network magazine, as well as past issues, can be found on Tri-State’s Internet site.

Colowyo, New Horizon mines garner awards

The employees of Western Fuels-Colorado (WFC), a 99 percent-owned subsidiary of Tri-State, have plenty to be proud of as recipients of several safety and environmental milestone awards for their operations at the New Horizon Mine near Nucla and the Colowyo Mine north of Meeker.

Both Colowyo (shown) and New Horizon mines received awards for safety and environmental stewardship recently by the Colorado Mining Association.

The awards, presented by the Colorado Mining Association (CMA) last week (March 20-22) at the 114th National Western Mining Conference in Denver, recognized both New Horizon and Colowyo mines for incurring no lost time incidents in 2011. For those distinctions and other safety efforts, the Colowyo Mine was the recipient of CMA’s Safest Surface Coal Mine Award and the New Horizon Mine was lauded for garnering CMA’s Excellence in Safety Award. In addition, both mines received CMA’s Environmental Stewardship Pollution Prevention Program Award for 2011.

The Colowyo Mine was purchased in December 2011 by WFC from Rio Tinto Group. It is the state’s largest surface coal mine, employing a workforce of 249. All the coal produced at this mine – 2.3 million tons a year – is transported by rail to Craig Station. The 1,311-megawatt Tri-State-operated power plant also burns coal mined from the nearby Trapper Mine.

The New Horizon Mine, which is the exclusive fuel supplier to Tri-State’s 100-megawatt Nucla Station, employs 28 WFC personnel. Developed and opened in 1993, this surface coal mine uses dozers, trucks and shovels to extract approximately 400,000 tons of coal a year for the nearby plant. The mined coal is then transported over the road to the plant (about 9 miles) using haul trucks.

Acquisitions, system improvements highlight 2011 activities

Tri-State’s purchase of the Fort Lupton Generating Station and the acquisition of Colowyo Mine by Tri-State subsidiary Western Fuels-Colorado, along with a flurry of field projects aimed at making improvements to the association’s power delivery system were among the major highlights of a very busy and productive year for the association.

Colowyo Mine uses two draglines and truck and shovel operations to extract coal for use at Craig Station.

Western Fuels-Colorado – a fuel supply cooperative in which Tri-State is the majority owner – officially became the new owner and operator of Colowyo Mine on Dec. 1, 2011. The northwest Colorado mine, which was already under contract to deliver up to 2.3 million tons of coal annually to Craig Station, is now aligned in an ownership role to ensure a reliable and affordable supply of fuel for the life of the plant.

During the same year-end time frame, Tri-State also completed the purchase of the 272-megawatt, natural gas fueled, combined-cycle Fort Lupton Generating Station in northeast Colorado. This plant, which employs 23 people, helps meet the association’s need to add intermediate generation and provides important load-following capabilities in a high growth area of the power supply system.

In order to meet continued member load growth, particularly in the areas serving expanding energy development, Tri-State maintenance crews and contractors were engaged in numerous transmission and substation projects throughout the association’s 200,000 square-mile power delivery system.  Among those ongoing projects is the Nucla to Sunshine transmission line in southwestern Colorado, which wrapped up its second year of a three-year timeline for completion.

The 56-mile, 115-kilovolt Nucla to Sunshine transmission project closed out the second year in its three-year timeline for completion.

Tri-State also is working closely with all of its members who have chosen to participate in the asset transfer of all or a portion of their 100-kilovolt and higher facilities to Tri-State ownership. This major undertaking will ultimately transfer up to 260 transformers and 500 miles of transmission line to Tri-State. The goal of the asset transfer is to improve reliability and help the association centralize and more effectively manage federal regulatory compliance rules.

The association’s generation fleet recorded an exemplary year in 2011.  In all cases, Tri-State’s generating units exceeded industry standards for availability, while plant and field location employees recorded improved safety performance at many Tri-State sites.

Late in the year, the Tri-State board authorized a payment of $20 million in capital credits to the member systems, marking the 23rd consecutive year that the G&T has returned patronage capital to its co-ops. In other financial actions, the G&T bolstered liquidity in 2011, through a new $500 million, 5-year credit facility. The funds will be used for working capital, capital expenditures and other corporate purposes.

Reflecting on the past year, Tri-State executive vice president and general manager Ken Anderson said, “I believe we have a lot to be pleased about as we look back on a solid year of accomplishments made possible by our dedicated board, staff and membership. We’ll be facing many challenges going forward, but I feel we are well positioned to meet our goals and deliver on our mission as we continue to mature the programs and processes that we have in place.”

Western Fuels-Colorado closes on purchase of Colowyo Mine

Western Fuels-Colorado LLC, a fuel supplier that delivers coal under contract to Tri-State’s Craig Station and Nucla Station power plants in western Colorado, has completed its purchase of the Colowyo Mine from Rio Tinto.

Tri-State is the majority owner of Western Fuels-Colorado, which delivers coal produced at Colowyo Mine to the 1,304-megawatt Craig Station.

“Electricity responsibly produced with coal remains a remarkable value to serve the power needs of the region,” said Ken Anderson, executive vice president and general manager of Tri-State.  “The purchase of Colowyo Mine ensures Tri-State will have a cost-based supply of coal to generate affordable power for the benefit of our member electric cooperatives.”

In 2010, the Colowyo Mine produced approximately 1.5 million tons of coal under contract for Western Fuels-Colorado for delivery to Tri-State.  Total production of Colowyo Mine in 2011 was 2.3 million tons.

“The Colowyo Mine will help supply clean-burning coal to Craig Station for the expected life of the power plant,” said Mike McInnes, senior vice president of production at Tri-State.  “Tri-State will continue to invest in Craig Station and in the development of clean coal technologies.” Continue reading ‘Western Fuels-Colorado closes on purchase of Colowyo Mine’