Tri-State Issues RFP for Renewables

Already the leading solar generation and transmission cooperative in the United States, Tri-State Generation and Transmission wants to increase its renewable energy resource portfolio. In June, the Westminster-based co-op power supplier issued its sixth request for proposals for renewable energy resources.

RFPs for long-term purchase agreements for wind and solar sites allow Tri-State to identify low-cost projects while maximizing tax benefits. According to a press release, Tri-State and its members have enough renewable resources to power the equivalent of more than 570,000 rural homes. And in early 2019, the G&T announced two new power purchase agreements in Colorado: the 100-megawatt Spanish Peaks Solar and the 104-megawatt Crossing Trails Wind projects.

This most recent RFP seeks 10MW to 200MW projects with terms of 15-25 years. Tri-State expects to make decisions on any new projects by the end of the year.

Ribbon Cutting on New Solar Farm

As reported in earlier editions of Energy Innovations, the 2-megawatt Trout Creek Solar began production earlier this year.

Sangre de Cristo Electric Association recently celebrated the operation of the innovative solar farm with a “wire cutting” ceremony. The solar farm is the first of its kind, in that it was built on Colorado Department of Corrections land at the Buena Vista Correctional Facility. This partnership and collaboration among all stakeholders of the project offered many challenges for the Buena Vista co-op, which is buying the electricity from the facility. But it was worth the effort and the wait.

Trout Creek Solar is part of a larger energy portfolio that makes up SDCEA’s distribution system. Sangre de Cristo Electric Association consumer-members receive 40% of their power from renewable resources. And now part of this percentage is locally-produced clean energy from Trout Creek Solar.

Electrify Your Drive

As the sales of electric vehicle surge, so do Colorado electric co-op charging stations. EV drivers are reducing range anxiety thanks to several co-op’s innovative and creative approach to public charging stations. Co-ops partner with various groups, public entities and organizations to cover the costs, installation and locations of EV charging stations. And much of the state is covered with access to EV charging stations, thanks in part to Colorado’s electric cooperatives.

Read more about which co-ops have charging stations and the benefits to the communities they serve:

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.