Lamar Light & Power / Arkansas River Power Authority

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The Lamar Light & Power / Arkansas River Power Authority was a proposed coal-fired power plant that would have involved converting a 30 MW gas-fired plant into a larger 39.5 MW generating plant.[1][2]

The facility is owned by Lamar Light and Power, and the Arkansas River Power Authority issued bonds to finance the conversion. The project went forward without a public vote. Since completion, the project has suffered numerous problems and complaints: (1) odors reported by neighboring residents, (2) soot affecting cars and houses, (3) fire trucks responding to a "combustion problem" in the 110-car coal train, (4) increased construction costs from a $66 million initial projection to a final figure between $122 million and $140 million, (5) toxic emission including mercury, selenium, dioxin, and hydrochloric acid.[3]

Clean Air Act lawsuits

In late 2009, WildEarth Guardians filed suit in federal court against Lamar Light and Power, and the Arkansas River Power Authority, for constructing the plant without a determination that it will use Maximum Achievable Control Technology to reduce emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants. In March 2011, WildEarth Guardians filed a second lawsuit against the plant. According to WildEarth Guardians, the plant failed to monitor its air pollution for more than 2,000 hours from the time it began operating in May 2009 until December 2010.[4]

Towns defect from project

According to the sponsors' original plan, power from the plant would have been sold to six towns in Colorado (Lamar, La Junta, Las Animas, Holly, Springfield, and Trinidad) and one in New Mexico (Raton). Raton dropped out of the project in 2010, saying the project had soared in cost and failed to deliver the cheap power promised. Delays and frequents shutdowns of the plant have forced ARPA members to buy more expensive power elsewhere. In 2011, Trinidad's City Council voted unanimously to sue the Arkansas River Power Authority for mismanaging construction of the plant, after a December 2010 boiler breakdown that city officials didn't learn about for a week. Lamar residents are challenging the utility in federal court, claiming that officials failed to meet federal requirements for power plants before starting construction and that the plant has logged more than a thousand violations of emissions standards since operations began.[5]

Project Details

Sponsor: Lamar Light & Power / Arkansas River Power Authority
Location: Lamar, CO
Capacity: 43 megawatts
Status: Began operating May 2009

Citizen Groups



  1. Colorado Coal Plant Proposals: Lamar, Western Resource Advocates, undated, accessed January 2008.
  2. Status of New Coal-fired Plants in the West March 25, 2008
  3. Alan Prendergast, "Black out: Lamar gets steamed over a troubled coal plant - right in the middle of town," Denver Westword News, September 29, 2010
  4. "WildEarth Guardians Files Second Lawsuit Against Lamar Coal-fired Power Plant," WildEarth Guardians press release, March 21, 2011
  5. Alan Prendergast, "Lamar coal plant: Trinidad sues to get out of 'mismanaged' project," Denver Westword Blog, March 7, 2011

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