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Colorado governor names director of office to help workers, communities make transition from coal

Wade Buchanan, director of policy and research for Gov. Jared Polis, has been named to head a new office created to help workers and communities make the transition as coal plants and mines are closed.

Polis said in a news release Tuesday that Buchanan will start as director of the Office of Just Transition at the end of February. The office, created by the Colorado General Assembly in 2019, is in the state Department of Labor and Employment.

“As we work toward achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, we need to make sure that Coloradans in coal-dependent communities have the tools they need to thrive in today and tomorrow’s economy,” Polis said. “Wade is just the right person to lead the office’s efforts as our economy makes this transition.”

Polis has issued a plan for achieving the goal of making Colorado’s electric grid fossil-fuel-free by 2040. The plan refers to working with state regulators and utilities to “transition from coal-fired power to cheaper, cleaner sources of renewable energy.”

In 2018, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission approved a plan by Xcel Energy that includes shutting two of its coal-fired generation units earlier than planned. That same year, the utility announced a goal of being carbon-free by 2050.

In December, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association said it will close two of its coal-fired power plants and a coal mine in Colorado and New Mexico earlier than planned. The closures will affect a total of about 600 employees.