Coal energy powers the small Colorado town of Craig — quite literally. The community relies on the energy produced at the Craig Station plant to keep the lights on and the economy moving.

New regulations, however, threaten the community’s prosperity. Colorado imposed a renewable energy mandate that stipulates 30 percent of energy production must come from wind, solar and other renewable sources by 2020.

“Society cannot have reliable power based on when the wind blows and/or when the sun shines,” said Rick Johnson, plant manager at Craig Station, in a new video about the town’s plight.

Johnson oversees the 1,311-megawatt Craig Station plant, one of the largest coal-fired power plants in America. To illustrate his point, Johnson notes in the video the drastic difference in megawatts produced by coal energy compared to renewable sources.

The Cimarron Solar Facility in New Mexico, for example, has a capacity to produce 30 megawatts. The Kit Carson Windpower Project in Colorado has a capacity of 51 megawatts. Neither plant was operating even close to that capacity during filming of the video.

Heritage’s Nick Loris, an expert on energy policy, warned that additional regulations would ultimately mean higher electricity prices for consumers and economic consequences.

“Coal-fired electricity provides nearly half of America with affordable, reliable electricity generation but environmental activists have been intent on significantly reducing that percentage,” Loris said. “Adopted, proposed and pending regulations that are both expensive and stand on a weak scientific foundation would significantly increase compliance costs for existing coal plants, and make it more difficult to build new coal plants, increasing the cost of electricity and destroying jobs.”

Aside from producing energy, the Craig Station plant offers other benefits to the community. It employees more than 300 people and helps generate revenue for other businesses in the area — like so many other energy companies in Colorado.

Some of those businesses are already suffering as energy companies, facing Colorado’s new regulations, look elsewhere to invest their resources. Revenue at the local Best Western Hotel is down significantly, forcing the owners to lay off workers for the first time.

“Really what’s happening in Colorado is this perfect storm of federal regulations hammering down on the energy industry and state regulations that are having a tremendous impact on the cost of electricity,” said Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research. “This is happening in places all around the country where we see this attack on the very energy sources that have powered our economy and made this engine run.”