Colorado’s Electric Co-ops Leading the Way to Clean Energy

America’s rural cooperatives provide nearly one-third of the country’s electricity. And in many rural areas, co-ops lead the way to the transition to renewable energy. According to his article, “How Rural States are Leading the Clean Energy Revolution,” Drew Bond says we are “witnessing an unprecedented level of private capital investment in renewable energy,” which creates employment opportunities in rural areas and supports a “win-win for everyone.”

Colorado co-ops are at the forefront of this innovative, rural approach to clean energy. There are four windfarms providing power to Colorado’s co-op power supplier and at least two more in the works. There are countless solar farms providing electricity across the state. And a utility-scale battery storage system is installed and working well for United Power in north central Colorado.

Colorado’s electric co-ops are doing their part to come together to provide affordable, reliable and clean energy to the consumer-members they serve.

Mountain Parks Electric Studies Electric Water Heaters

In an innovative approach toward energy efficiency and saving consumer-members money, Granby-based electric cooperative Mountain Parks Electric is beginning a smart water heater pilot program. Homes that have electric water heaters (and Wi-Fi) have been encouraged to sign up for this study.

Here’s how it works: Mountain Parks provides an Aquanta device for free in exchange for occasional control over the water heater. The Aquanta device makes the water heater more efficient and also connects to the user’s smartphone. That way, consumers can see how much hot water is available in the tank at any given time. It also contains a sensor that automatically sends a text message alert if the water heater starts leaking. From the user’s smartphone, information about how much energy is being used to heat water at any given time is also available.

The control of the water heater would be implemented during typical peak hours from 5:30–10 p.m., Monday through Saturday. In one year, MPE will analyze the results of the pilot program and obtain the feedback of participants.

Holy Cross Energy Contributes to Grid Resilience Study

Glenwood-based electric cooperative Holy Cross Energy and other collaborators were selected to support an investigation of the role that solar energy can play in improving grid resilience against natural disasters or cyberattacks.

The Siemens research and development unit was selected for a $6.4 million research award from the US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. Holy Cross Energy will share its system data and grid model with Siemens to assist in testing and validating the energy management system against various scenarios.

Another Colorado Co-op Receives EV Charging Grant

Meeker-based electric cooperative White River Electric Association joins other Colorado electric cooperatives as a recipient of a Charge Ahead Colorado grant from the Colorado Energy Office. The grant awarded to WREA will help fund two electric vehicle charging stations.

Both a level II and level III charger will be installed in the town of Meeker and will be the first electric car charging units in the county. The EV market is growing in the northwestern part of the state, and WREA wants to be prepared to support its local community, consumer-members and area travelers.

WREA has not decided the charging station fee schedule yet, but the two units will be have a base fee plus a per-kilowatt-hour fee. The units will be installed and operational by mid-summer 2019.



United Power Celebrates 10 Years of Community Solar

United Power commissioned the first community solar program in the country 10 years ago this month. Located on United Power’s property in Brighton, consumer-members lease the panels for a 25-year period and receive credit for all the power generated by their panel. The program is sold out.

The Colorado Governor’s Energy Office provided seed money to help United Power develop the project. The solar farm was energized on May 15, 2009, and officially launched on May 27, 2009. A second module was added in August 2010.

The innovative Sol Partners Cooperative Solar Farm made solar technology more accessible to United Power consumer-members and is a model that has been replicated among utilities across Colorado and the country.


Poudre Valley REA Creates A Buzz at Solar Farm

The Environmental Science Class from Resurrection Christian School spent an afternoon with Fort Collins-based Poudre Valley REA and CSU Extension to plant pollinator-friendly seeds at the Coyote Ridge Community Solar Farm. Through this innovative use of solar farm land, the project will benefit nearby agriculture, contribute to the preservation efforts of pollinating species (birds, bees, etc.) and improve the beauty of the site.

Colorado Springs Co-op Works With Military

The United States Department of Defense is a large energy consumer worldwide and the single largest energy consumer in the nation. Over 80 electric cooperatives in 35 states across the nation work closely with the military, providing electricity services and partnering on innovative projects.

Limon-based Mountain View Electric Association, Inc., makes that list by providing electricity to Schriever Air Force Base in El Paso County, about 10 miles from Colorado Spring. The base includes 242 homes in the Tierra Vista community. Working with the military and its consumer-members offers MVEA opportunities to support the DoD and local communities.

YVEA Awarded EV Charging Station Grant

The Colorado Energy Office recently awarded Yampa Valley Electric Association a Charge Ahead Colorado grant to fund two electric vehicle charging stations. The charging stations will be installed at YVEA’s offices in Craig and Steamboat Springs and will be for employee and public use.

The Steamboat Springs-based electric cooperative received a total of $18,000 for the charging stations. The chargers are expected to be installed and ready for use by July. Though not the first Colorado electric cooperative to receive a Charge Ahead Colorado grant, this innovative program will bring the first publicly accessible charging station to Moffat County.

Charge Ahead Colorado’s program aims to promote EV charger installations across the state with the hopes to accelerate the more widespread adoption of EVs.

White River Electric Solar Farm Wins Award

White River Electric Association’s Piceance Creek Solar Farm was named the 2019 Colorado Utility Scale Project of the Year. The award, given by the Colorado Solar and Storage Association, was presented to representatives from the electric cooperative at a ceremony on Sunday, April 14 in Aurora, Colorado.

The 5.4-megawatt solar power system sits on 40 acres where 16,959 solar modular panels are mounted on a single axis tracking system. They generate enough energy to power over 830 single-family homes each year. Beginning in May, WREA consumer-members will have the opportunity to lease power from the solar farm.

White River Electric Association is located in Meeker in northwestern Colorado. It serves more than 3,300 meters.

Winds of Change for K.C. Electric Association

Three proposed wind farms are being developed in K.C. Electric’s service territory on Colorado’s eastern plains. The Cheyenne Ridge wind farm is a 500-megawatt wind farm developed by TradeWind Energy. NextEra Energy will develop a 300-megawatt wind farm south of Flagler called Bronco Plains. And EDP Renewables is developing a 104-megawatt wind farm south of Seibert called Crossing Trails.

The Crossing Trails project is located in both Kit Carson and Cheyenne counties and will require a new 230,000-volt transmission line to be built from the wind farm to an existing transmission line. K.C. Electric’s power provider, Tri-State Generation and Transmission, has signed a power purchase agreement with EDP to purchase the output of the Crossing Trails wind farm, some of which will be distributed into K.C.’s system. It is expected that these three wind farms will be in service by the end of 2020.