A familiar sight returned to downtown Colorado Springs Wednesday. A plume of white steam is again rising from the Drake power plant, signaling the possibility of an upcoming utility rate decrease.
Unit six went online Wednesday. It's using coal to generate electricity.
"I was stopped at the light and looked up and there was the steam. I just paused for a minute and soaked it in. It was really fantastic," said Daniel Higgins of Colorado Springs Utilities.
Two other units are still out of commission after a fire at the plant in May.
Springs Utilities is proposing a rate reduction that would take effect July 11. The city council still needs to approve the rate change.
Utility rates could drop again when unit 7 is fixed and running again. That's expected to happen in the fall.
It is cheaper to produce electricity at the coal-powered Drake plant than it is to generate the same amount of power at the other plants Springs Utilities operates, or buy from a third party. The extra cost of producing that replacement power is not covered by insurance and is the reason utility rates went up after the fire. Utilities says as the Drake plant comes back online, those rates should drop again.