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Colorado: Coal still king in Summit County energy mix

The Four Corners coal power plant. Photo courtesy EcoFlight.org. Click to track Ecoflight state by state.

70 percent of the power for the local area derived from dirty fossil fuels

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Despite small-scale hyperlocal efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the local area still relies on coal to a much larger degree than the national average, according to an online EPA clean energy tracker.

The calculations, based on data from 2009, show that, for Frisco’s 80443 zip code, coal accounts for 67.8 percent of the energy used in the area. The national average is 44.5 percent.

Gas accounts for 22.6 percent, very close to the national average of 23.3 percent. The graphs also show that none of our power comes from nuclear sources, and that we’re slightly ahead of the national average in terms of non-hydropower renewable energy, at 5.2 percent compared to the national average of 3.6 percent.

Based on the high percentage of coal in the local energy mix, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions are far above the national average.

Energy use in average households in the region cause the emission of about 30 pounds of nitrogen oxide per year. Nitrogen compounds are known to pollute high elevation lakes and streams, and a recent study showed that accumulations of nitrogen compounds in the soil are changing plant communities in the alpine zone.

Average households are also responsible for the annual emission of 21,328 pounds of carbon dioxide, the most common and difficult-to-reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gas, as well as 23 pounds of sulfur dioxide, another toxic pollutant from coal power plants.

 

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