Colorado Co-ops Tour Utility-Connected Home

Colorado electric co-op directors and managers have just returned from a national meeting where they had a chance to learn about hundreds of innovative technologies and products that can help their co-op stay current and offer more energy efficiency to consumer-members.

At the TechAdvantage Lab, co-op leaders toured a utility-connected home. The Lab featured tech products that covers the home from the outside in: Doorbell cameras, smart door locks, smart thermostats, smart lights and dimmers, connected garage door openers, a SmartHub voice assistant and, of course, an electric vehicle and home 10kW EV charger.

TechAdvantage also included breakout sessions with speakers talking about the latest and greatest innovations that have the ability to connect consumer-members and co-ops through smart apps, a home hub and home appliances such as water heaters that connect to the grid. These all have the potential to talk to the co-ops directly and maximize energy efficiency.

Sangre de Cristo Electric Association Solar Project Begins Operations

The Trout Creek Solar array went online January 31 and is fully operational. As reported in a late-2018 edition of the Energy Innovations newsletter, the project was approved for construction at the end of August 2018 when Sangre de Cristo Electric Association signed a 36-year site license agreement.

In an innovative partnership with the Colorado Department of Corrections, the site sits on the Buena Vista Correctional Complex property south of Buena Vista.

Trout Creek Solar has 7,952 panels on a sun-tracking system which maximizes production. The array will generate about 5,752 megawatt hours of energy and will generate approximately 4.7 percent of the co-op’s annual energy usage. SDCEA will celebrate the opening of the facility when the weather warms up.

San Isabel Electric Offers EV Rebates

Pueblo-based San Isabel Electric, a not-for-profit electric cooperative serving portions of southern Colorado, is rolling out generous EV rebates for its consumer-members.

In addition to electric vehicle-related rebates of up to $5,000, SIEA offers a discounted rate to consumer-members who wish to charge their EV at home. Residents enrolled in the time-of-day rate can expect to pay as low as 59 cents per equivalent gallon of gas, depending on the time of day they charge their electric vehicle at their residence.

SIEA offers a $500 rebate for the purchase of an eligible EV and up to a $1,000 rebate for the purchase and installation of an EV charging station. It’s also partnered with Nissan to offer a $3,500 rebate to consumer-members who purchase a new Nissan Leaf from participating dealers before April 1.

For more information about San Isabel Electric’s rebates and the Nissan rebate, visit

Empire Electric Holds Popular Recycling Event

For 12 years, Cortez-based Empire Electric Association has held a refrigerator/freezer recycling event for members to turn in up to two inefficient units to receive a $60 credit on their electric account. EEA pays the recycling costs at Montezuma County Landfill, Bob’s Place and the Dove Creek Transfer Station where certified recyclers remove the Freon from the units and dispose of the remaining materials.

Bobbe Jones with Empire Electric states that “The total units recycled to date over the life of the program is 2,813, with a total refund to consumer-members of $139,280.” Empire averages 234 units recycled each year.

Through this innovative program, the electric co-op helps members get rid of old, inefficient units in a safe and environmentally-friendly manner. Many of these units are replaced with new, more efficient appliances that save energy —as well as money — for the members.

It has been a successful program for EEA and has been replicated by other Colorado electric co-ops.

Tri-State Hydro Projects Play Central Role in Energy Mix

Renewable hydropower has been part of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association’s energy mix since its beginning more than 50 years ago. And, while the power supply co-op started with large hydropower from the Western Area Power Administration and its large dams in the western United States, today the power supply also includes smaller hydro projects located in Colorado.

There are five small hydropower projects so far within the Centennial State and they generate about 20 megawatts of electricity. Those projects are located near Boulder, Mancos, Ridgway, Parshall and Vallecito Lake northeast of Durango.

The hydropower projects are located on waterways where dams either already existed or where they were installed for reasons other than generating electricity. Tri-State has been able to utilize these situations to also generate electricity.

Hydroelectric energy is generated when the potential energy in a pool of water in a reservoir is conveyed through a pipe. The force created by moving water spins a turbine and generator, which produce electricity. This electricity is delivered to Tri-State’s member cooperatives in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Potential Solar Array for San Miguel Power Association

San Miguel Power in Ridgway recently took another step toward adding another solar project. The San Miguel County planning commission recently recommended the approval of a special use permit to allow the installation of a solar array that would provide electricity to San Miguel Power Association.

The project, which has already been approved by Tri-State Generation and Transmission, is slated to generate 366 kilowatts, 274 of which would be sold to SMPA.

The site will sit on a 1.6 -acre parcel of land near the Telluride Regional Airport. The array will be placed on a south-facing slope on the south part of the property and will have 16 rows of panels.

Mountain Parks Electric Rebates for Green Power

Granby-based Mountain Parks Electric rebated $34,260 to its consumer-members who installed local renewable energy systems last year.

MPE provides electricity to all of Grand and Jackson counties and parts of Larimer, Routt and Summit counties, which includes nearly 4,000 square miles. Any MPE member installing a new renewable energy system — solar, wind, hydro, biomass — is eligible to apply for the Green Power Program rebate.

The Green Power Program is voluntarily funded by more than 1,200 MPE consumer-members, approximately 7 percent of the total consumer base. Contributors donate anywhere from $1 to $100 a month, added on to their monthly electric bill. Since 2011, MPE, through this program, has rebated more than $170,000 to its members installing renewable energy projects.

Other local renewable power includes the hydropower from Granby Dam and from the town of Grand Lake’s micro hydropower recovery system. Currently, MPE’s overall power supply is 33 percent renewable.

For more information about the rebate program, visit

Grand Valley Power Sets Clean Energy Goal

Grand Valley Power recently announced that it has adopted one of the most aggressive environmental targets of any electric cooperative in the nation. The Grand Junction-based electric co-op set a goal to deliver a 60 percent clean energy mix to its consumer-members by 2030.

Currently delivering electricity with a 30 percent renewable mix, Grand Valley Power has been ahead of the curve in renewable energy standards. The cooperative met Colorado’s statutory Renewable Energy Standard 10 years ahead of the requirement partially because its power supplier, an investor-owned utility has found it financially beneficial to increase its renewable energy portfolio.

GVP’s Chief Executive Officer Tom Walch states that GVP will continue to deliver value to its consumer-members and will “meet this 60 percent target by 2030 while maintaining rate stability and excellent reliability standards.”

GVP buys its wholesale power from Xcel Energy, Western Area Power Administration and cooperative-owned generation resources.

White River Solar Project

Earlier this month, Meeker-based White River Electric Association opened a new solar farm. WREA Members will have opportunities to lease blocks of power from the Piceance Creek Solar Farm beginning in May 2019.

The lease program will be similar to the solar leasing program at the Meeker Solar Garden which is adjacent to Meeker High School.

This is the electric co-op’s third local renewable project. The 4 megawatt project is the largest of its kind in western Colorado.

Spanish Peaks Solar Project Announced by Tri-State

Over the last 10 years, Tri-State Generation and Transmission has added more than 475 megawatts of utility scale wind, solar and other renewable energy projects to its portfolio. This diverse generation mix will continue to increase with a new solar project.

The 100-megawatt Spanish Peaks Solar Project is the fourth utility-scale solar project from the Westminster-based G&T, which supplies power to 18 of Colorado’s 22 electric co-ops. Tri-State partnered with juwi and will purchase the entire output of the project over the 15 years of the power purchase contract.

The solar site will sit on 660 acres approximately 20 miles north of Trinidad in southern Colorado. With 300,000 photovoltaic solar panels that will follow the sun throughout the day, the solar project has the potential to serve the electricity needs of 28,000 rural homes.

Construction of Spanish Peaks is anticipated to begin in 2022 with completion in 2023.