Both Tri-State and its member systems in Colorado and New Mexico continue to seek opportunities to expand their energy resources mix to include renewables such as wind, solar and hydroelectric power.
On the Tri-State side of the renewable list, a significant portion of the energy it provides to its members is derived from renewable resources, including hydropower, wind and solar. Tri-State delivers to its members 704 MW of renewable hydropower generated from facilities across the west.
Most of Tri-State’s purchased renewable resources are derived from two Colorado-based wind farms totaling 142 megawatts of wind capacity and the 30-megawatt Cimarron Solar Facility in northeastern New Mexico.
In 2013, the association signed an agreement prompting the expansion of the Colorado Highlands Wind farm in northeastern Colorado. Last fall, the site grew from 67 megawatts of capacity to 91 megawatts of output for Tri-State under a power purchase agreement.
On the planning horizon, the G&T will add the production of the planned 150-megawatt Carousel Wind Farm near Burlington, Colo., by 2016, and an 8-megawatt hydropower project will begin producing power this summer for Tri-State at the Ridgway Dam and Reservoir in Ouray County, Colo.
On the membership side of the renewable ledger, a diverse list of renewable and distributed generation projects that are either planned or are in operation add up to a combined 53 megawatts of total capacity.
The largest of those member-sponsored renewable facilities include Delta-Montrose Electric Association’s (Montrose, Colo.) South Canal Hydroelectric units, which are capable of producing up to a combined 8.4 megawatts during maximum inflow periods and the four wind turbines comprising the Huerfano River Wind farm, which generate up to 8 megawatts of capacity for San Isabel Electric Association (Pueblo-West, Colo.).
Community solar facilities have gained popularity during the last several years at a number of Tri-State’s member co-ops. This is largely because they offer member-owners who may not be able to afford to install expensive rooftop solar units on their homes a chance to purchase a portion of a co-op -owned solar array and receive the renewable benefits on their electric bills.
Among the more unique member renewable projects are two generating facilities – one at Highline Electric Association (Holyoke, Colo.) and the second on La Plata Electric’s (Durango, Colo.) lines – that produce power from waste heat and a 3-megawatt biomass plant on United Power’s system (Brighton, Colo.), which is fueled by methane extracted from decomposing trash at an Erie, Colo. landfill.
Tri-State’s board of directors have established policies that offer incentives for most of above mentioned local member renewable projects.