Dec 28, 2009 10:37 PM by David Ortiviz

Pueblo council to vote on power plant deal

Days away from the new year, the City of Pueblo is on the verge of balancing its 2009 budget. It all comes down to a city council vote on Monday night. If approved, it could bring a new $500 million power plant to Pueblo and with that millions of dollars for this years budget.

Black Hills Energy may build two natural gas power plants together in Pueblo. The 400-mega watt facility would be located about 2-miles northwest of the Pueblo Memorial Airport. For the city, this comes at critical economic time. "This is a great boost for the budget if we can land this," said Vera Ortegon, City Council President.

Pueblo is facing a $5 million shortfall in its current budget. To balance it they offered Black Hills Energy a deal.
The city will give the power company a $2.5 million dollar break on taxes. In return, Black Hills will pay the city $7.5 million--the city will get nearly $5 million of that right away.

"I see no downside on this deal," said Ortegon. Ortegon says after two years, the city will collect about $2 million in annual property taxes from the site. Plus, most of energy produced at the plant, will stay here. "(Black Hills Energy) tells us they'll spend about 80% of the energy produced here in Pueblo. So what this does is really guarantees our own growth," said Ortegon.

If Black Hills decides to build somewhere else, Pueblo must refund the money Black Hills gave them. But the company has already purchased land near the airport and say Pueblo is its preferred site.

A public hearing will be held prior to the city council vote. The meeting takes place Monday Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. at City Hall in Pueblo.


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