Coyote Gulch’s excellent EV adventure — #ColoradoRiver Day 3

Coyote Gulch’s Leaf in the hotel parking lot upon arriving in Grand Junction May 21, 2023.

Day 3 was a short jaunt from Glenwood Springs to Grand Junction. We stayed on US-6 as much as possible to get closer to the Colorado River along with the hay fields and small towns between the two cities. Spring has sprung in the area and the Colorado River was bankfull all the way.

Charging was in Rifle at the Kum & Go. I charge here whenever I’m in the vicinity becasus they have several ChargePoint (CHAdeMO) chargers, and it is a short walk to restaurants.

#Arizona, #California and #Nevada try to make a deal to cut #ColoradoRiver usage — but is it enough? — The #Denver Post #COriver #aridification

Shadow Mountain Dam via USBR

Click the link to read the article on The Denver Post website (Conrad Swanson). Here’s an excerpt:

Those states, which make up the river’s lower basin, are reportedly close to an agreement that would cut the amount of water they draw from the waterway. They’re racing against the clock to find an agreement before the end of the month or else the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation might make the cuts for them. But their proposed savings – reported Thursday by the Washington Post – amount to half of the minimum amount of water federal officials said the basin must save. And while the Colorado River’s headwaters saw an above-average snowpack this year, that extra water only buys the West a bit more time and the boon isn’t expected to last.

“The river is telling us that we haven’t done enough,” Jennifer Gimbel, a senior water policy scholar at Colorado State University said. “It’s challenging us.”


The proposal, which hasn’t formally been proposed, would mean the Imperial Irrigation District would be conserving nearly a quarter of its water supply, spokesman Robert Schettler said. Already those measures could mean that fewer crops come out of the major farming district in southern California (the largest water user in the most water-consumptive state), lowering national supply and raising prices. Digging deeper would exacerbate those issues, he said.,,Negotiations to meet those federal requirements are fraught, pitting rural communities against urban ones and forcing a type of standoff between Arizona and California, the two largest water users on the river. Upper-basin states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming offered a small effort, for their part, but water managers there are reluctant to commit further without more substantial movement from the downstream states…

Currently, the lower-basin states are nearing an agreement to conserve 3 million acre-feet over the next three years, The Washington Post reported. That’s half of Reclamation’s minimum required savings of 2 million acre-feet annually, though. And the states would want to be paid more than $1 billion from the federal government to forego that water, the Post continued, citing state and federal officials familiar with the negotiations. Massive amounts of federal money are available for conservation projects, Gimbel said. Programs are already in place to pay farmers and others to use less water and they’ve seen mixed results. But paying people, businesses and states not to use water isn’t a long-term strategy, Gimbel noted. She praised lower-basin states for coming together but noted that the water saved by the prospective deal wouldn’t be enough.

Updated Colorado River 4-Panel plot thru Water Year 2022 showing reservoirs, flows, temperatures and precipitation. All trends are in the wrong direction. Since original 2017 plot, conditions have deteriorated significantly. Brad Udall via Twitter:

Will #nuclear energy arrive on time and at cost? — @BigPivots #COleg

Craig Station is the No. 2 source of greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado, behind Comanche station at Pueblo. Photo/Allen Best

Click the link to read the article on the Big Pivots website (Allen Best):

No doubt, nuclear energy has key advantages. So why isn’t it likely to be the silver bullet to replace coal plants in Craig, Pueblo and other places?

Oliver Stone has a new movie, “Nuclear Now,” that made its Colorado debut in Boulder on May 1. In it Stone argues that the grave risks posed by climate change require we embrace nuclear energy.

A few hours before, at a hearing in Denver, state legislators heard an even more urgent equation. “Anybody who opposes nuclear I believe is a climate denier,” an individual testified before the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee.

And in Pueblo that evening, city council members heard about a committee formed by Xcel Energy to study options to replace tax base, jobs, and electrical generation once the last coal plant there closes. The group will hear about nuclear.

In the background is the federal government, offering gambling money on all sorts of decarbonization solutions, including nuclear.

Mauna Loa is WMO Global Atmosphere Watch benchmark station and monitors rising CO2 levels Week of 23 April 2023: 424.40 parts per million Weekly value one year ago: 420.19 ppm Weekly value 10 years ago: 399.32 ppm 📷 http://CO2.Earth Credit: World Meteorological Organization

People on the left and right find common ground in support of nuclear energy, but their motivations differ. Some, like Stone, the movie-maker, are driven by the existential danger posed by climate change. Even the pleasant days of spring are spoiled by news that the carbon dioxide detector atop Mauna Loa has recently rolling past 425 parts per million. We’re still barreling toward a much rockier climate road. Climate scientists have long talked about tipping points. It’s like your head turning gray, one hair at a time — until suddenly, it all goes gray or white.

Some in Colorado see nuclear energy replacing coal plants. The last coal unit at Pueblo will close no later than 2031. Xcel has guaranteed property tax revenues through 2040, but not to 2070, the original retirement date. Craig also faces giant uncertainties. Increased tourism? “We don’t want to become sheet-changers,” one Moffat County landowner told me.

Manhattan Project 1944, Uravan. Photo credit:

Western Montrose County, where a uranium boom occurred during the 1950s —and which lost a small coal plant in 2019, is also interested in nuclear.

HB23-1247, titled “Assess Advanced Energy Solutions in Colorado,” now awaiting the governor’s signature, will direct study of nuclear energy but also other options. All have upsides but questions marks. Green hydrogen, made from renewables and water, can store energy for use when renewables are unavailable. However, the technology remains costly. Too, some scientists question whether accidental release of hydrogen into the atmosphere will create as many problems as it solves.

Nuclear can also backup intermittent renewables. Nuclear does provide 20% of U.S. electricity. We have a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. They seem to operate without problems. But some questions remain about nuclear safety. Would you want a large-scale reactor in your town or city? I have to also wonder about nuclear technology falling into the wrong hands.

St. Vrain, Colorado’s only nuclear power plant, operated only a decade before its owner, Public Service Co. of Colorado, pulled the plug on it and, in the early 1990s, converted it into a natural gas plant. Spent fuel is stored on site. Photo: Allen Best/Big Pivots

Many have been closely following the progress in Wyoming of a nuclear plant planned next to a coal plant at Kemmerer. TerraPower,  the company founded by Bill Gates in 2008, says it will require less water and produce less nuclear fuel waste while plugging nicely into old coal plants. It projects cost of $4 billion for this plant that will use Natrium technology.

WyoFile reported that while in Kemmerer during early May, Gates called it a “pioneering move,” key to the global energy future. This project is projected to be ready in in 2030. PacifiCorp, a major regional power provider,  has said it could add five more such Natrium reactors at existing coal-fired plants in Wyoming and Utah.

Another potential model is assembly-line-style production of small modular reactors, lowering costs. That sounds appealing, but by definition that model will not replace the big coal plants at Pueblo and Craig. For that matter, it does not yet exist.

Here in Colorado, I hear people with degrees in nuclear engineering express doubts about nuclear. State Sen. Chris Hansen, at the recent legislative hearing, objected to how a witness had characterized his skepticism about nuclear. “It has nothing to do with science or technology,” said Hansen, who has a degree in nuclear engineering. “It’s the cost profile.” He cited a recent Georgia reactor that came in at $33 billion, three times the projected cost. It’s not the only example.

Chuck Kutscher got his master’s degree in nuclear engineering and worked in the nuclear sector California before turning his attention to solar in 1978 and moving to Colorado. “New  nuclear power plants, including new U.S. reactor technologies currently under development, will likely be too expensive and take too long to build to make a significant contribution to climate change mitigation,” he says.

In Boulder, Oliver Stone’s movie talked little of costs. But in Pueblo, a representative of Idaho National Laboratory, speaking to a municipal energy study group, openly conceded that cost remains the million dollar question.

She misplaced a comma or two in that string of zeroes, though. It’s the billion dollar question. Many billions.

Allen Best is a Colorado-based journalist who publishes an e-magazine called Big Pivots. Reach him at or 720.415.9308.