Hayden Most people seem to agree that trucking coal to the Hayden Station is not ideal.
Trucking coal to the power plant wears out Routt County roads, can create traffic hazards and has the potential to become more expensive as fuel prices rise and coal supplies move farther away, Xcel Energy officials say.
For nearly three years, Xcel, which owns the Hayden Station, has been working to find a way to get coal to the power plant via rail. Company leaders think this will help provide a reliable source of fuel, but getting rail access has not been easy. Challenges include the disruption of traffic on U.S. Highway 40 and negative effects on the environment.
At a work session Thursday night, Xcel representatives and numerous state agency officials will meet with the town to collect community input. Hayden Planning Commission and Town Board members are expected to attend the meeting.
"After this meeting, we will hopefully have the input we need," said Michael Diehl, principal agent for siting and land rights with Xcel.
He said company leaders hope to have a new proposal to Routt County by July.
Officials from the Division of Wildlife, Army Corps of En----gineers, Union Pacific Railroad and Colorado Department of Transportation are expected to attend the meeting.
"We're trying to get the agencies there so we can get the information from the agencies," Diehl said Tuesday.
Interested members of the community are encouraged to attend.
The technical impacts of several alternatives have been analyzed, and community input needs to be collected before a proposal is pitched to Routt County officials.
Since the Seneca Coal Mine shut down in January, Xcel has been hauling all of its coal on Routt County Road 27 from the Twentymile Coal Mine. About 900,000 tons of coal is trucked to the plant annually. By rail, a single 60-car train would transport coal to the plant once a day, five days a week, Diehl said.
Xcel started with nine alternative plans for rail access and has since narrowed that down.
In January 2005, county commissioners turned down Xcel's proposal to build a spur from the Union Pacific mainline on the Carpenter Ranch south to the station because it would have affected a conservation easement partially owned by the county.
County commissioners did not want to see another rail line across the ranch and easement. Diehl said they still consider the Carpenter Ranch access an option.
In October, Xcel proposed getting more people involved in the process and wanted to determine what the priorities are for resources including wildlife, agriculture lands and view shed to establish new options.
Since then, Diehl said the company has been in negotiations with Peabody Coal for purchasing rail access at an existing rail crossing U.S. Highway 40 on the eastern edge of town. The coal for the Hayden Station is purchased from Peabody Coal.
Hayden town officials are urging Peabody to work with Xcel and the town on long-term planning for delivering coal. Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin said leaders want to avoid future problems, such as coal trucks regularly driving through town.
"That's why we need to get Peabody to the table," he said.