Monthly Archive for November, 2011

First successful co-op-served landfill gas generation plant dedicated

The Erie Landfill gas plant is designed to be expanded to a potential output of 4.8 megawatts.

With the help of Tri-State board policy incentive programs offered to its member co-ops for development of local renewable energy projects, United Power (Brighton, Colo.) is the G&T’s first member system to add landfill gas generation to its growing renewable resource portfolio.

The Erie Landfill Gas to Energy Project, located about 25 miles north of Denver, celebrated the start-up of the 3.2-megawatt generating station with a ribbon cutting event earlier this month attended by local, state and U.S. government officials, as well as guests from United Power, Tri-State and other partners in this unique venture.

The landfill project is a renewable source of generation under Colorado’s Renewable Portfolio Standards. Simply put, it takes a naturally occurring byproduct of waste decomposition – methane – and gathers this gas to run a generator to produce electricity.

“Unlike some forms of renewable energy that can be intermittent in their output, the landfill gas plant is considered a baseload facility because it can produce energy on a consistent around-the-clock basis,” said Jerry Marizza, new energy program coordinator for United Power.  “This makes it a very valuable resource to United Power,” he added.

United Power’s Jerry Marizza stands in front of the two methane fueled generators at the Erie Landfill plant.

The Erie Landfill Gas to Energy Project draws methane from three adjacent landfill sites. Partners in the development of the project are Waste Connections, which owns, operates and develops the landfills for methane extraction and Landfill Energy Systems, which operates the gas plant and sells the electric generation to United Power under a 10-year Purchase Power Agreement.

In addition to the board policy incentive agreements that Tri-State has inked with United Power for the landfill gas project, the G&T has also assisted the co-op in providing its expertise in connecting this generating facility to the co-op’s system and Tri-State has also included the landfill gas plant in its own system resource plan.

If all goes as planned, the Erie Landfill Gas to Energy Project is projected to eventually be built out to generate up to 4.8 megawatts – enough capacity to power half of Erie’s 6,700 homes.

Tri-State to test PHEV Ram 1500 pickups over three years

The six Ram 1500 PHEV pickup trucks arrived at Tri-State’s Northern Colorado Maintenance Center earlier this week.

Chrysler Group LLC, working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), recently delivered six demonstration fleet Ram 1500 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) pickup trucks to Tri-State – part of a national demonstration fleet of 140 vehicles that will be used during the next three years to evaluate customer usage, drive cycles, charging, thermal management, fuel economy, emissions and impact on the region’s electric grid.

The trucks are being deployed throughout the United States primarily as fleet vehicles for universities, municipalities and electric utilities, which were selected to evaluate an assorted array of temperature extremes, traffic cycles and diverse climates and geographies.

Tri-State is the only organization in the Rocky Mountain region — and the sole electric cooperative utility in the nation — to participate in the program.  They will be utilized primarily by Tri-State’s fleet, maintenance and member services personnel. Usage will be tracked to measure battery performance and overall hybrid efficiency with the demonstration fleet of pickups. Continue reading ‘Tri-State to test PHEV Ram 1500 pickups over three years’

Sierra Electric Cooperative energizes Spaceport America

Richard Branson and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez dedicate the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space terminal at Spaceport America near Las Cruces, New Mexico. Photo from AP.

There are a number of unique loads within Tri-State’s member service territory. But, there’s only one member co-op that can claim powering the world’s first commerical space travel port. Sierra Electric Cooperative (Elephant Butte, N.M.) recently energzied a dedicated line to serve Spaceport America, a state-owned commercial spaceport near the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range.

Tri-State covered the project during its early construction phase in the fall of 2010 in Network magazine.

Although the terminal hangar facility is not yet complete, a dedication ceremony took place late last month and was attended by Gov. Susana Martinez and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson.

New Mexicans support repeal of costly state GHG cap-and-trade rules

Representatives of New Mexico’s electric cooperatives on Nov. 8 delivered petitions with the signatures of 16,875 citizens urging the repeal of state greenhouse gas rules. Resolutions from cooperatives, local governments and school districts also support the repeal.

Billy Tate, Farmers Electric Cooperative, and Chuck Pinson, president of NMRECA and general manager of Central Valley Electric Cooperative, display petitions with the signatures of 16,875 citizens in support of repealing New Mexico’s state greenhouse gas rules.

Supporters delivered the petitions to the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) on the first day of public hearings regarding the repeal of the rules.

In late 2010, the EIB approved state rules requiring reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico. However, a required economic analysis of the rules’ effects on New Mexico’s economy, job growth and electricity rates was not completed prior to the approval.

The rules carry a major cost for New Mexicans without providing environmental benefits. The rules also would cost New Mexico jobs at the very time when consumers can least afford another economic setback.

The New Mexico EIB is currently considering repealing these rules. The EIB held its first public hearings in Santa Fe on Nov. 8-9.

On day one, 18 parties testified during the hearing in support of the repeal with none in opposition. Providing public comments were representatives from the state’s electric co-ops, Association of Commerce and Industry of New Mexico and Clovis Chamber of Commerce, as well as a number of area citizens. Additionally, Tri-State Escalante Station employees Chock Black, Tim Hoisington, Tim Lujan and Brian Tychener offered comments.

An economic analysis of the cap-and-trade rule completed since the rules’ passing found its costs far outweigh the insignificant reductions in greenhouse gases. Specifically, the analysis found the rule would:

  • Reduce New Mexico’s economic output by $828 million to $1.6 billion through 2030
  • Reduce New Mexico job creation by 649 to 1,736 workers by 2020
  • Reduce global greenhouse gas emissions annually by two to six thousandths of one percent (0.002 – 0.006%)
Tri-State’s Barbara Walz, senior vice president of external affairs and member relations (far left), provides comments during Tuesday’s hearing.

New Mexico’s electric cooperatives support the repeal of these rules as part of their efforts to maintain access to affordable and reliable electricity. Electric consumers from across the state have rallied around the cooperatives’ “Keep Electricity Affordable” campaign.

“These 16,875 signatures send a clear message to the New Mexico EIB,” said Charles Pinson, president of the board of directors of the New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “New Mexicans want affordable, reliable electricity that powers job growth. Last year’s EIB rules would do just the opposite, reducing jobs and punishing the state’s economy without making a difference in emissions.”

Resolutions also were submitted from several electric cooperatives, business groups, the Curry County and Rio Arriba boards of county commissioners and the Espanola and Jemez Mountains school districts.

The hearing, as well as the public comment period, will resume on Tuesday, Nov. 15.


Basin Electric to hold 50th annual meeting today

Ron Harper, CEO of Basin Electric, will preside over his last annual meeting today. He retires at the end of the year.

Members of Tri-State’s board and senior management staff are in Bismarck, N.D., today to attend Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s 50th Annual Meeting scheduled to convene at 11:50 a.m. Mountain Time in the Ramkota Ballroom in Bismarck. Following the annual meeting, a celebration of Basin Electric’s 50th anniversary will be held beginning at 4:30 p.m. at the Bismarck Civic Center.

Tri-State’s history is intertwined with the North Dakota G&T as a partner in power production at the Missouri Basin Power Project (Laramie River Station), as a fellow founding member of Western Fuels Association and as a Class A member of Basin Electric, Tri-State also purchases a portion of its power from the Bismarck-based cooperative.

Basin Electric’s half-century milestone also marks the final year in which CEO and general manager, Ron Harper will serve at the helm of this successful G&T. Harper, who is a former manager of Tri-State member, Carbon Power & Light (Saratoga, Wyo.), will retire at the end of this year, after serving for 11 years as Basin Electric’s CEO.

Voters grant San Isabel Electric franchise

A Colorado electric cooperative won a victory at the polls last week, when voters in Pueblo approved a measure allowing it to serve inside the city limits.  With 78 percent of the vote, San Isabel Electric Co-op, Pueblo, will receive a franchise to continue serving existing members in an industrial park where city officials want to attract more businesses.

The Nov. 1 victory “was critically important to the co-op,” said Reg Rudolph, general manager, because it could mean bigger loads and future growth for San Isabel.  “The industrial park is prime real estate in southern Colorado, with access to rail, an interstate highway system, natural gas and electric facilities, a strong community college and four-year university — things that are needed to foster economic development in an area.”

Currently, the co-op and city officials are “deep in negotiations” with two companies considering the park, Rudolph said.

At issue in Question 2A were split service boundaries within the St. Charles Industrial Park, which sits south of Interstate 25. The business park’s northern half is served by Black Hills Energy, an investor-owned utility, while the southern portion fell into the co-op’s service area.  While state regulators allowed it to serve the southern portion, the co-op still needed a franchise from the City of Pueblo to do so.

“We didn’t have the right to serve the area, even though the state granted us permission. So we had to go through the political process to a grant a franchise,” Rudolph explained. “We described it as a housekeeping issue.”

Touchstone Energy co-ops support the ‘house that love built’

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, Tri-State and the region’s other Touchstone Energy cooperatives are going to be serving as presenting sponsors of the Ronald McDonald House radiothon on KOSI radio, 101.1 FM. This is the fourth consecutive year the co-ops are supporting this worthwhile cause, which directly benefits families that live in the member co-ops’ service territories.

Supporting the non-profit Ronald McDonald House is a good fit for Tri-State and its member co-ops, as the organization provides lodging and food for families living at least 60 miles outside the metro area that have children who are being treated at Denver area hospitals and have nowhere else to stay. Families are provided a safe and comfortable place to live along with support, understanding and compassion from staff, volunteers and other families staying at the house.

Earlier this week – and leading up to the day of the radiothon – 60-second vignettes began running on a number of KOSI sister stations in 14 markets throughout Colorado (Cortez, Durango, Fort Collins, Craig, Burlington and Pueblo), Nebraska (Chadron, Hay Springs and Ogallala), New Mexico (Farmington and Springer) and Wyoming (Riverton, Powell and Casper). In addition, numerous promos will air, highlighting the support of Touchstone Energy co-ops as they give back to the communities they serve.

Tri-State member DMEA gives early holiday gift

DMEA board members Marshall Collins and Mike Sramek present a check to the Family Readiness Group that supports the 928th Area Support Medical Company of the Colorado National Guard.

Tri-State member co-op Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA), through its Touchstone Energy community budget, recently donated $928 to the Family Support Group of the 928th Area Support Medical Company of the Colorado National Guard, based in Montrose, Colo. The gift will be used to purchase and ship phone cards to those serving in Afghanistan so they can be a little closer to their families this holiday season.

The mission of the 928th is to provide emergency medical treatment, sick call and ground ambulance evacuation of troops. Its members include medical professionals, educators, police officers, construction workers and college students.

“Touchstone Energy cooperatives across the country are committed both to their communities at home and to our friends and family members who are making sacrifices for us overseas,” said Dan McClendon, DMEA’s general manager. “DMEA is pleased to help some of the families who are part of our own co-op be in better touch with their loved ones now serving in Afghanistan.”

Individuals or businesses interested in donating to the Family Support Group of the 928th Area Support Medical Company of the Colorado National Guard can call Norine at (970) 252-7769 or Sharon at (970) 249-9228. Checks can be made payable to the 928th Family Readiness Group (FRG). Donations by check or phone cards can also be mailed to: National Guard Family Program Office, 928th FRG, 482 28 Road, Grand Junction, CO 81501.

DMEA’s Montrose office is also serving as a drop-off location for Christmas toys for kids of those serving in uniform. Santa, along with the Colorado Army National Guard’s Family Readiness Programs Office, is gathering toys for military families through Dec. 12.


Wyoming FFA’ers learn about careers in electricity

More than 200 Wyoming FFA youths from 50-plus chapters gathered in Douglas last weekend to enhance their leadership skills, brainstorm community service opportunities and learnabout career opportunities in the field of rural electricity as part of the organization’s fall conference. Tri-State and the Wyoming FFA Foundation were sponsors of the event.

The conference took place at the Wyoming State Fairgrounds, where attendees learned how they can improve their personal, mental, emotional and physical growth through the use of the national FFA’s “212 degrees” conference program. Working in small groups, they learned how to build a positive self-image, discussed the effects of social media on relationships and created an inventory of healthy physical habits.

As a sponsor of the event, Tri-State not only made a financial donation to lower admission costs for students to attend, but also provided information to the FFA participants regarding the vast number of career options available in the rural electricity industry. As part of a presentation, strategic communications specialist Jonathan Thornton gave an explanation of electric cooperatives, handed out prizes during a “Price of Electricity is Right” game and explained the many benefits of working for rural electric cooperatives.

Tri-State to assess options for SoCo transmission infrastructure

Tri-State will move forward to identify options to ensure electric system reliability following Xcel Energy’s reconsideration of its participation in a joint transmission project with the association in southern Colorado.  Xcel announced yesterday that factors affecting its resource needs require the utility to reconsider its participation in the Southern Colorado Transmission Improvements Project.

Tri-State and Xcel have been developing the project, which was approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and would meet Tri-State’s reliability requirements and Xcel’s renewable energy requirements.

“The need for reliable electric service across the San Luis Valley, south-central Colorado and northern New Mexico has not changed,” said Joel Bladow, Tri-State’s senior vice president of transmission. “Tri-State will examine all options to ensure reliable power for the region; it is premature to eliminate any options without further investigation.” Continue reading ‘Tri-State to assess options for SoCo transmission infrastructure’

Tri-State hosts public outreach events for proposed transmission projects

Tri-State employees from the environmental, land, transmission engineering and public affairs groups put in a lot of windshield time this fall to publicize a number of planned transmission projects in Colorado. The group has hosted public outreach events in eastern Colorado’s Washington, Weld and Adams counties for three proposed projects.

Burdett-North Yuma 115-kV Transmission Project

An open house held on Sept. 29 in Washington County for the Burdett-North Yuma 115-kV Transmission Project attracted a number of attendees from the area. The proposed line will support increased natural gas production in Colorado by servicing the planned Burdett Pump Station, to be built by the Overland Pass Pipeline Company in Washington County.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2012 and be complete that fall. The proposed line would connect the pump station to the existing North Yuma Substation. Partners for the project include the Overland Pass Pipeline, Tri-State and member  system Highline Electric Association (Holyoke, Colo.), which will electrically serve the planned Burdett Pump Station.

The next step for the Burdett-North Yuma project is to obtain land use permits from Washington and Yuma counties.

“We’re targeting to file the land use permit application in early December, in time for the December 19 planning commission meeting in Washington County,” said Sarah Carlisle, public affairs coordinator. “The public is invited to the planning commission meeting, during which we will announce the preferred line route.” Continue reading ‘Tri-State hosts public outreach events for proposed transmission projects’