No-Cost Energy Audits Provided by Electric Cooperative

Fort Morgan-based Morgan County Rural Electric Association offers home and business energy audits to its membership at no cost. MCREA members who have questions about their electric bill or want to find ways to be more energy efficient can schedule energy audits at their convenience.

Bill Annan conducts an energy audit for MCREA member

MCREA Member Services Representative Bill Annan conducts the energy audit by performing a walk-through of the home or business to collect information. An infrared camera may be used to assist in identifying building envelope weaknesses. Annan also reviews the member’s history of electric consumption and discusses the member’s concerns and goals of energy consumption. Once the audit is complete, members can assess priorities in their energy efficiency plan based on recommendations made by the auditor.

Co-op’s Landfill “Brownfield” Transforming to Solar “Greenfield”

San Miguel Power Association, GRID Alternatives Colorado and the Colorado Energy Office recently announced the development of a community solar array that will lower the electric bills of qualified low-income residents in SMPA’s service territory. The project is not only part of a statewide initiative to reduce energy costs for utilities’ highest need customers, it is also an effort to turn a limited-use site into a clean energy generator.

With an unwavering vision to reclaim a local landfill, San Miguel County worked with its partners in project development to turn a “brownfield” into a “greenfield” and harness renewable energy that will help the local community for decades to come. Project supporters also include Energy Outreach Colorado, the Telluride Foundation and EcoAction Partners.

According to SMPA Chief Executive Officer Brad Zaporski, the rural electric cooperative has been looking to increase its local renewable energy generation portfolio in a way that makes the resource available to a larger portion of its members and keeps utility bills affordable. Turning an old landfill into a site of local clean renewable energy generation adds an additional layer of benefit to the community and the environment.

“SMPA has long been a leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said SMPA Board President Rube Felicelli. “We are now making home efficiency upgrades and local renewable energy readily available to our lower income members through SMPA’s ‘IQ’ or ‘income-qualified’ Weatherization and Solar Programs. We are excited to join with our partners to reduce our carbon footprint while also reducing the financial burden of high electrical bills on local families in need.”

“When we see projects like this, we are filled with optimism,” said Sandy Stavnes, acting assistant regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. “With this project, community partners came together to turn property that had limited reuse potential into something that will provide energy to community members in need as well as significant environmental benefits. A bonus is the solar panels on top of the landfill will assure the landfill cover is maintained.”

This is the sixth low-income community solar demonstration project developed in partnership with local utilities through a $1.2 million grant GRID Alternatives received from CEO in August 2015. Each project is piloting a slight variation on the low-income community solar model to address the unique needs of rural utility service areas and their customers. The projects selected are both affordable and scalable for utility partners and offer great potential to expand across the state.

“This project, with its multiple bottom lines — energy cost saving for families, renewable energy, brownfield reclamation, and local solar job training — is a win for the whole community and a model for the state and the nation,” said Chuck Watkins, executive director of GRID Alternatives Colorado.

Colorado Energy Office Director Jeff Ackermann said, “This demonstration project with GRID and SMPA reinforces our low cost approach to community solar, which blends the delivery of clean-generated electricity and assisting our neighbors in need.”

Electric Vehicle Charging Station Energized in Co-op Territory

Lake City’s first public electric vehicle charging station was recently energized and available for locals’ use. Gunnison County Electric Association was awarded another grant from the Colorado Energy Office’s Charge Ahead Colorado program, which helped cover the costs of the equipment and installation of the level 2 multi-port electric vehicle charging station.

Charge Ahead Colorado promotes the use of electric vehicles and increasing electric vehicle charging station infrastructure around the state. The Gunnison-based electric cooperative partnered with the town of Lake City on the project. Lake City generously donated two parking spots on town-owned property and poured the concrete slab for the station. GCEA staff installed the station and performed some of the electrical work.

The central location allows electric vehicle owners the opportunity to charge their vehicle and walk short distances to the many shops and restaurants in Lake City and take in the beautiful scenery. The charging station is the same model as the stations located in Crested Butte and Gunnison, which offers ease of use and familiarity for electric vehicle owners traveling in the area. (The city of Gunnison owns the station located in downtown Gunnison and also received a grant to help pay for that station.)

GCEA is proud to offer another resource to allow electric vehicle owners opportunities to travel with confidence between communities, promote clean energy technologies and encourage the use of more electric vehicles in the area.

Electric Cooperative and Duke Energy Share Solar Project

Intermountain Rural Electric Association, headquartered in Sedalia, recently signed a 25-year agreement with Duke Energy Renewables to buy the electricity generated on a 13-megawatt solar site, dubbed the Victory Solar Power Project. Duke Energy acquired the site from developer juwi Inc. The Victory Solar Power Project will power approximately 2,600 homes with solar electricity and recently began operating.

“Victory is our first solar project in Colorado, where we already have an operating wind energy site,” said Rob Caldwell, president of Duke Energy Renewables and Distributed Energy Technology. “It’s the 50th solar project in our growing U.S. renewables footprint, and juwi’s high-quality site marks another milestone in expanding our solar presence in the western part of the country.”

“IREA is pleased to have worked with juwi to bring this facility into production ahead of schedule,” said IREA Chief Executive Officer Patrick Mooney. “We look forward to Duke Energy providing clean renewable energy to IREA’s customers for years to come.”