Archive for the 'Clean Energy' Category

McInnes testifies on Clean Power Plan at Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing

Tri-State CEO Mike McInnes

Tri-State CEO Mike McInnes

US Capitol Building, Washington DC – Tri-State works hard to keep electricity reliable and affordable for our members, and part of that effort includes the thorough review of any new regulations that would impact our industry.

Helping to elevate our association’s perspective to a national level, CEO Mike McInnes recently provided testimony at a hearing on the “Implications of the Supreme Court Stay on the Clean Power Plan” before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. 

In his testimony to the committee on June 9, McInnes emphasized how, “as a cooperative, Tri-State operates differently and has different risks compared to investor-owned and municipal utilities, a fact EPA ignored in the Clean Power Plan and why Tri-State and other cooperatives were active in the rulemaking process and challenged the rule in court.”

Unlike investor-owned utilities whose rate of return gives these utilities an incentive to build new infrastructure, cooperatives and their members bear the full cost of compliance. These costs are spread over fewer customers. Typically, cooperatives have 1-11 consumers per mile while investor-owned and municipal utilities average more than 35.

McInnes explained the efficiency of Tri-State’s coal generation fleet, the association’s significant investments in renewables and energy efficiency, and the challenges of operating across five states with varying responses to the stay of the Clean Power Plan.

Following the attention received by an article in Cornerstone Magazine by Barbara Walz, Tri-State senior vice president Policy & Compliance and chief compliance officer, McInnes was invited to testify before the committee. The article outlined the unique challenges cooperatives face with the Clean Power Plan as they work to deliver affordable electricity to members in rural communities.

Read McInnes’ testimony or watch the archived webcast of the hearing.

Silicon Ranch and PVREA Announces Energization of Local Solar Facilities

image005Tri-State member Poudre Valley REA (PVREA) and Silicon Ranch Corporation announced today that nearly 100,000 solar panels are live and generating renewable energy to Poudre Valley REA members in Northern Colorado.

The Skylark and Valley View Solar Facilities, both in Weld County, sit on nearly 150 acres of land combined and house nearly 100,000 solar panels – equivalent to the size of 48 football fields. The 8-megawatt solar facilities alone are 12 times larger than the Cooperative’s second Community Solar Farm that went live in January 2015 and are one of the first of its kind in Northern Colorado.

“This project is a milestone for Poudre Valley REA. Although we have completed renewable energy projects prior, such as our Community Solar Farms and the Carter Lake Hydropower Project, the Skylark and Valley View Solar Facilities are significantly larger and add another local, renewable energy source,” PVREA CEO Jeff Wadsworth said.

PVREA earlier this year signed a Purchase Power Agreement with Silicon Ranch Corporation to develop the Skylark and Valley View Solar Facilities. McCarthy Building Companies, one of the largest American-owned construction firms, was contracted by Silicon Ranch to build the solar facilities and hired160 local workforce in Northern Colorado for construction. In just three months, the sites went from dirt to hundreds of rows of solar panels generating enough energy to power 1,300 homes annually.

Silicon Ranch President and CEO Matt Kisber said, “As long-term owners of all our projects, Silicon Ranch takes great pride in being excellent neighbors and active members in the communities that we serve. To that end, we have spent considerable time and effort over the past several months listening, learning, and responding to various stakeholders throughout Weld County, including but not limited to Upstate Colorado Economic Development, Greeley City Council, the Weld County Board of County Commissioners, local city and county planning departments, and of course, our neighbors. Today we celebrate the commissioning of these solar facilities as a true group effort, and we are grateful for all of our project partners.”

The solar generation facilities are directly tied into the Cooperative’s distribution system and used as a local energy source, contributing to the local power mix for all PVREA members in Weld, Larimer and Boulder counties. Silicon Ranch worked with PVREA to locate the facilities that form the project at two strategic sites, one near Greeley and the other near Severance, to maximize benefits to the co-op members and to match to PVREA’s load requirements. The Cooperative also has other renewable energy projects – Carter Lake Hydropower, two Community Solar Farms, and several hundred members with individual Photovoltaic (PV) solar systems. With the commissioning of the Skylark and Valley View Solar Facilities, PVREA members receive 28% of their energy from renewable resources.

“We’re pleased to be providing renewable energy to our members that maintains reliability, makes economic sense and conserves natural resources, and we will continue to research additional energy resources that prove advantageous for our members,” PVREA CEO Jeff Wadsworth said.

 

PVREA to add 8 megawatts of solar capacity

PVREAsolar250According to a recent article appearing in the Denver Post, Tri-State member system Poudre Valley REA (Fort Collins, Colo.) could be just two months away from completing two solar farms that are expected to produce enough electricity to power about 1,300 homes.

Each of the two solar sites, located near Loveland, is being built on 70-acre land parcels that will accommodate nearly 50,000 solar panels. Maximum combined output for the two sites is approximately 8 megawatts.

Poudre Valley’s Amy Blunck said the solar sites are owned and being constructed by Nashville-based Silicon Ranch. One site, named Valley View Solar, is north of U.S. 34 and west of Colo. 257. The other site, called Skylark Solar, is near the intersection of Colorado highways 14 and 257, east of Fort Collins.

Poudre Valley REA has a 20-year contract to purchase the electricity from the solar facilities, but isn’t investing any money in their construction, Blunck said.

During the past several years, the co-op also has built two community solar farms, from which its consumers can purchase solar panels and receive a monthly credit on their electric bills. One of these community solar farms has a total of 494 panels and is located adjacent to Poudre Valley’s headquarters in Windsor. The other community solar site features about 2,000 solar panels and is located north of Fort Collins.

Poudre Valley also buys electricity from a small hydroelectric plant located at Carter Lake and receives up to 24 percent renewable power from its primary power supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, based in Westminster, Colo.

Tri-State announces 25-megawatt Alta Luna Solar Project in New Mexico

Altaluna250Tri-State and D.E. Shaw Renewable Investments, L.L.C. (DESRI), have announced the execution of a 25-year contract to supply the association with renewable energy from the planned Alta Luna Solar Project to be constructed in Luna County in southwest New Mexico.

Tri-State will purchase the entire output of the 25-megawatt solar farm over the life of the contract. The facility is expected to come online in December 2016 and will receive electric service from Tri-State member Columbus Electric Cooperative, based in Deming.

“Alta Luna Solar is the third utility-scale renewable energy project we’ve announced this year and further demonstrates how Tri-State and its members are committed to a diverse, yet cost-effective generation fleet,” said Brad Nebergall, Tri-State’s senior vice president of energy management. “As with the other projects, Alta Luna represents a collaborative effort to find solutions to the various challenges that new generation presents – from siting and engineering to transmission access and financing. We are pleased to be contributing to this important initiative.”

The new solar site will consist of a single-axis tracking array of over 108,000 photovoltaic solar panels located on a 220-acre site in Luna County, approximately 25 miles northeast of Deming. The project was developed by TurningPoint Energy, a Denver-based developer, and subsequently sold to an affiliate of DESRI in partnership with Bright Plain Renewable Energy, LLC, a San Francisco-based solar project developer, investor and operator.

The Alta Luna Solar Project is Tri-State’s second utility-scale solar photovoltaic power purchase agreement in New Mexico and the third in its system overall. In 2010, the utility began receiving power from the 30-megawatt Cimarron Solar facility located in Colfax County, N.M., and last month Tri-State announced an agreement to purchase power from the 30-megawatt San Isabel Solar Project to be constructed in southern Colorado.

In 2014, 24 percent of the energy Tri-State and its member systems delivered to cooperative members was generated from renewable resources – one of the top ratios among electric utilities in the nation.

 

Mountain Parks hosts renewable energy tour

In an effort to educate its members on the opportunities and advantages of installing renewable energy equipment at their homes or businesses, Tri-State member Mountain Parks Electric Association (Granby, Colo.),MP250tour hosted a Local Renewable Energy Tour on Aug. 26.

“Mountain Parks established a Green Power Board in 2011 that is comprised of four co-op consumers,” explained Rob Taylor, member services coordinator. “This board, which oversees our members’ local renewable projects, recommended a tour of some of our existing renewable customers to better inform its members on the types of renewable installations that are currently in use on our co-op lines,” he explained.

A total of 21 member guests, directors and Mountain Parks and Tri-State staff boarded a bus for a tour of three consumer member sites that featured photovoltaic solar, hot air solar panels, solar panels that track the sun and a small wind turbine.

The tour was jointly sponsored by Mountain Parks Electric and Simply Efficient, LLC, a Denver -based alternative energy consulting firm.

“We received very positive comments on the tour from our member participants and will likely schedule another tour of local member renewable projects in the near future,” added Taylor

 

Tri-State and juwi announce PPA for 30-megawatt solar project in southern Colo.

Solararray250Tri-State and juwi Inc., a Colorado-based renewable energy company, have announced a 25-year power purchase agreement to supply the utility with renewable energy from the planned San Isabel Solar Project to be constructed in southern Colorado.

Tri-State will purchase the entire output of the 30-megawatt solar farm over the life of the contract. The facility is expected to begin operation in the fourth quarter of 2016. The San Isabel Solar Project will consist of more than 100,000 photovoltaic solar panels sited on 250 acres of land in Las Animas County, located approximately 20 miles north of Trinidad, Colo.

The project lies within the service territory of Tri-State member San Isabel Electric Association (Pueblo West, Colo.).

San Isabel Electric’s general manager Reg Rudolph said, “San Isabel is very excited to work with juwi and Tri-State and honored to have our area selected for this solar farm. This project shows San Isabel Electric’s and Tri-State’s commitment to renewable energy and will also be a very positive development for the southern Colorado economy.”

This is the second renewable energy purchase agreement for Tri-State this year, following the June announcement of the 76-megawatt, Twin Buttes II Wind Project south of Lamar, Colo. In 2014, 24 percent of the energy Tri-State and its member systems delivered to cooperative members was generated from renewable resources – one of the top ratios among electric utilities nationwide. In February, the U.S. Department of Energy recognized Tri-State and San Isabel Electric as the 2014 Wind Cooperatives of the Year.

TVA seeks to license the first U.S. nuclear reactor of this century

TVAnuc250The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) requested an operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the 1,150 MW Watts Bar nuclear facility unit 2. It would be the first nuclear reactor to go online in the U.S. since unit 1 in 1996.

The license request signals the completion of comprehensive testing that demonstrates unit 2’s operational readiness. Because TVA’s license request to the NRC lists other tasks necessary to demonstrate the facility is ready and safe, it is unclear when the facility will be commissioned.

Construction on unit 2 was begun in January 1973, during the big U.S. turn toward nuclear power. It was put on hold several times in the interim when U.S. energy demand flattened and when the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima incidents forced reconsideration of NRC standards.

In April 2012, the TVA board reviewed multiple cost overruns and delays, imposed a $4.2 billion budget, and targeted the end of 2015 for operations to begin. The project is now 99% complete and, based on those revisions, “is on time and on budget,” according to TVA President Bill Johnson.

First U.S. offshore windfarm under construction

Firsttowers250Last month, American offshore wind developer, Deepwater Wind installed the first foundation for what is expected to be the first offshore wind farm in the United States. The project will be located three miles southeast of Block Island, Rhode Island.

With five turbines totaling 30 megawatts of generation capacity, the Block Island Wind Farm is expected to be operational in 2016 and would be the initial and smallest of three offshore projects that Deepwater Wind is planning along the Atlantic Coast.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, Colo.) estimates that the U.S. has  4,200 gigawatts of developable offshore wind potential, compared to its estimate of 11,000 gigawatts of onshore potential. Wind resources are classified on a scale of zero to seven based on their power density, and more than 66 percent of offshore wind in the U.S. is in wind power class six or seven. In addition, offshore wind turbines are built to take advantage of the more consistent wind speeds present over the ocean, allowing higher utilization of electricity generation capacity when compared with similarly sized onshore wind turbines.

When Relying On The Sun, Energy Storage Remains Out Of Reach

PTW image1The ability to store energy could revolutionize the way we make and use electricity. But for many utility companies and regular folks, energy storage is still way out of reach. It’s expensive — sometimes more expensive than building out old-fashioned infrastructure like power lines and power plants. [Read more]

What EPA Rule Means for Co-ops

combine_images-240x148EPA has tweaked some parts of its first-ever greenhouse gas rules on power plants, but NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson says they still go too far, too fast. [Read more]

 

Craig Station employees celebrate 1 million work-hours without a lost-workday injury

Barry Ingold (left), senior vice president of production, presents a plaque commemorating 1 million hours without a lost-day injury to Craig Station’s Jim Nicoletto (center) and Paul Perez.

Barry Ingold (left), senior vice president of production, presents a plaque commemorating 1 million hours without a lost-day injury to Craig Station’s Jim Nicoletto (center) and Paul Perez.

Credit Tri-State’s 300 Craig Station employees with the hard work, focus and tenacity that it took to reach an unprecedented safety milestone of having worked for more than 1 million hours without a lost workday injury at the association’s largest (1,303-megawatt) generating facility.

Plant employees were honored for their accomplishment earlier this week (July 15) with a visit and presentations by executive vice president and general manager, Mike McInnes and Barry Ingold, newly appointed senior vice president of production.

Ingold presented a plaque recognizing this achievement to Paul Perez, lab technician and union safety steward for Craig Station and Jim Nicoletto, machinist mechanic and chief steward for the local chapter of the IBEW. Continue reading ‘Craig Station employees celebrate 1 million work-hours without a lost-workday injury’

Tri-State, members continue to expand renewable portfolios

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.  

DMEA’s South Canal Hydroelectric Plant is the largest local renewable project (in terms of capacity output) in the membership.

DMEA’s South Canal Hydroelectric Plant is the largest local renewable project (in terms of capacity output) in the membership.

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. Continue reading ‘Tri-State, members continue to expand renewable portfolios’

Co-ops celebrate Earth Day

2014-Earth-DayToday is Earth Day, an opportunity to promote the environment and celebrate efforts to preserve our resources. Cooperatives across the country, such as Clay Electric cooperative in Florida, have implemented creative programs to help protect their service territories. For example, when Clay Electric closed a substation in a national forest, rather than leave the site as-is, it worked to restore the site to its natural habitat so wildlife could thrive. To learn more about this program and other initiatives, visit NRECA’s web page that encourages co-ops to share their stories.

Staff and membership personnel look at energy efficiency practices at Colorado dairy

Tri-State, in partnership with its member systems, is a strong supporter of promoting energy efficient practices and products through its long-standing Energy Efficiency Products (EEP) program that offers financial incentives for new technologies such as LED and induction lighting that help dairy operators reduce their energy costs.  In support of that endeavor, Tri-State member services staff, along with employees from United Power, Morgan County REA and High West Energy, recently (Feb. 20) boarded a bus to embark on an energy efficiency tour of a local dairy operation.

View of milking parlor at the Shelton Dairy near La Salle, Colo.

View of milking parlor at the Shelton Dairy near La Salle, Colo.

The tour, hosted by the Western Dairy Association, in collaboration with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and the Colorado Energy Office, was of the 2,300-cow, Shelton Dairy near La Salle, Colo.

The purpose of the tour was to learn about some of the many energy saving opportunities that are available at these types of dairy operations and discuss some of the efficiency gains that have already been achieved as a result of an energy audit that was conducted at this farm with the help of EnSave, a firm that specializes in energy efficiency in agriculture, along with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Continue reading ‘Staff and membership personnel look at energy efficiency practices at Colorado dairy’

NREL’s Dr. Bryan Hannegan speaks to Tri-State Board

Tri-State director Jack Finnerty listens to Dr. Bryan Hannegan’s presentation at the January board meeting.

Tri-State director Jack Finnerty listens to Dr. Bryan Hannegan’s presentation at the January board meeting.

Tri-State’s board of directors welcomed notable National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) scientist and engineer Dr. Bryan Hannegan, who specializes in the field of renewable energy integration into the national energy infrastructure, as a guest speaker at yesterday’s monthly board meeting.

The presentation touched on the topics of future energy systems and their challenges, grid integration issues, the variability and forecasting of renewables, the impacts of generator cycling and more.

“The goal is to accelerate this clean energy future, but to do so in a way that’s durable – that doesn’t need a mandate, doesn’t need a subsidy, it just is,” said Hannegan.

Hannegan went on to discuss NREL’s approaches to addressing these issues in the laboratories of its state-of-the-art Energy Systems Integration Facility. The board and Tri-State’s senior management staff will have an opportunity to see the facility first-hand during a tour of the NREL complex near Golden, Colo. next week. Continue reading ‘NREL’s Dr. Bryan Hannegan speaks to Tri-State Board’

Output at Colorado Highlands Wind facility increased by 36 percent

Colorado-Highlands-Wind-project_expansionThe expansion of Colorado’s newest renewable energy facility is complete, with the Colorado Highlands Wind project now capable of generating 91 megawatts of electricity for Tri-State.

The facility originally came on-line in December of 2012, with 42 1.6-megawatt GE turbines able to produce 67 megawatts of power.  The expansion – which was announced in April and began construction in July – consists of an additional 14 1.7-megawatt GE turbines, increasing the facility’s total current capacity by 36 percent.

Tri-State has a 20-year power purchase agreement to receive all the electricity and environmental attributes from the wind farm, which is jointly owned by Alliance Power, Inc. of Littleton, Colo., and GE Energy Financial Services of Stamford, Conn.  It is located on 6,640 acres in northeast Colorado’s Logan County – in the service territory of Tri-State member co-op Highline Electric Association.

“Colorado Highlands Wind has been performing extremely well since being brought on-line late last year,” said Tri-State senior vice president Brad Nebergall.  “Since it was originally designed to accommodate 91 megawatts on the existing transmission system – and since Tri-State is always proactively pursuing projects that make sense for us and our member electric co-ops – the expansion of Colorado Highlands Wind was an opportunity we quickly embraced.” Continue reading ‘Output at Colorado Highlands Wind facility increased by 36 percent’

San Miguel Power creates LED pilot program

Telluride-LED-streetlightsTri-State member system San Miguel Power Association (Nucla, Colo.) has created a new pilot program to test the viability of LED streetlights throughout the electric co-op’s service area.

San Miguel Power’s key accounts executive Ken Haynes says the pilot program was created in accordance with SMPA goals to “increase efficiency, reliability and reduce costs.”

Historic Boulder Canyon Hydro cranks megawatts for Tri-State

The recently refurbished 5-megawatt Boulder Canyon Hydroelectric Plant that is now generating power for Tri-State under a five-year power purchase agreement was once the primary source of electricity for the then small community of Boulder, Colo.  Of course, that was 103 years ago, when electricity was more of a luxury than the necessity that it is today.

The historic Boulder Canyon Hydroelectric Plant began producing power in 1910.

The historic Boulder Canyon Hydroelectric Plant began producing power in 1910.

The Powering the West staff recently visited the Boulder Canyon hydro facility, which has produced power at this scenic mountain site west of the city since 1910.

Jake Gesner, City of Boulder hydroelectric manager, provided a bit of background on the historic facility. “When this plant was constructed, it included two 7-megawatt generating units, which were later upgraded to 10 megawatts,” he said.

At around the same time, another engineering marvel was taking shape elsewhere in the state. The Colorado Central Power Company was building the Shoshone Hydro Plant a few miles west of Glenwood Springs.

That hydro plant would include a 13-mile diversion tunnel and pipeline from the Colorado River and a 153-mile transmission line that extended all the way to Denver over rugged Hagerman and Argentine passes. For many years this line was regarded as the world’s highest transmission line.

Today, the Shoshone Hydro Plant plant continues to produce up to 14 megawatts of power for the customers of Xcel Energy.

Boulder Canyon hydro also claims some unique engineering aspects. When the plant was completed, it was noted as being the highest head (water pressure) hydroelectric facility in the western U.S. Water pressure at the plant is measured at an impressive 800 PSI during peak runoff periods.

Jake Gesner manages Boulder Canyon Hydro and seven other city-owned hydro plants. He is shown here with the brand new unit that now generates power for Tri-State.

Jake Gesner manages Boulder Canyon Hydro and seven other city-owned hydro plants. He is shown here with the brand new unit that now generates power for Tri-State.

The water source for Boulder Canyon hydro is derived from Barker Reservoir. The other components of the project consist of the 11-mile Barker Gravity Pipeline, Kossler Boulder Canyon Penstock and the plant itself, which now operates a single highly efficient 5-megawatt turbine/generator unit.

The City of Boulder’s hydroelectric department owns and operates a total of eight hydroelectric plants with a maximum combined capacity of 16 megawatts. The units are monitored and controlled remotely with a staff of three employees, including Gesner. This hydroelectric network also supplies Boulder’s municipal water requirements.

The revenue that Boulder collects from the power it produces at its hydroelectric projects is derived from Tri-State and Xcel Energy. Those funds are used to help offset the maintenance and operating costs of the city’s various facilities.

 

DMEA makes good on 100-year-old hydro plan

A unique hydroelectric project that was envisioned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation more than a century ago when the 6-mile Gunnison Tunnel was completed as part of a vast irrigation system in western Colorado’s Uncompahgre Valley, is now a reality thanks to Tri-State member Delta-Montrose Electric Association (Montrose, Colo.) and its project partner, the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association.

More than 100 years ago the completion of the Gunnison Tunnel was a major engineering feat that was acclaimed by President Taft.

More than 100 years ago the completion of the Gunnison Tunnel was a major engineering feat that was acclaimed by President Taft.

The opening of the Gunnison Tunnel in 1909 was hailed as a major engineering feat at the time, attracting dignitaries, noted newspaper media and even President Taft, who traveled to Colorado to officially dedicate the project.

The tunnel, bored through the walls of the Black Canyon as a water diversion from the Gunnison River, served as the capstone of a 575-mile network of canals and ditches which irrigate the many farms and ranches of the Uncompahgre Valley.

Although the new water supply network was considered a boon to the region’s agriculture industry, it was quickly noted by the media and the bureau’s engineers that a secondary benefit of this irrigation system could be to harness the fast-moving water to generate low-cost electricity to light the farms and small towns across the valley.

This unique fish gate at the mouth of the Gunnison Tunnel uses electrodes in the water to create a low voltage electrical field that deters fish – without harming them – from entering the canal system.

This unique fish gate at the mouth of the Gunnison Tunnel uses electrodes in the water to create a low voltage electrical field that deters fish – without harming them – from entering the canal system.

Fast-forward 100 years to 2009. Although a number of studies on the potential of hydropower on the  Uncompahgre Valley canal system were conducted over the years, it wasn’t until a century later, in 2009, that an agreement was finally reached between DMEA and the water users group to develop the $22 million South Canal Hydroelectric Project about five miles outside of Montrose. Continue reading ‘DMEA makes good on 100-year-old hydro plan’

Colorado Highlands Wind growing from 67 MWs to 91 MWs

A technician’s red car at the base of this tower provides scale in viewing one of the new wind turbines at the Colorado Highlands Wind project.

A technician’s red car at the base of this tower provides scale in viewing one of the new wind turbines at the Colorado Highlands Wind project.

Colorado Highlands Wind, Tri-State’s largest resource for wind power, is adding a total of 14, 1.7-megawatt GE wind turbine generators this summer that will boost the output of the eastern Colorado facility from a maximum of 67 megawatts to approximately 91 megawatts of power production.

According to Steve Mayfield, who provides quality assurance for the site’s owner and operator, Colorado Highlands Wind, L.L.C., “Phase two construction of Colorado Highlands Wind is on track for commissioning and commercial startup by September 2013.”

Tri-State has a 20-year power purchase agreement to take all of the generation from the site, which began initial operation and production from 42, 1.6-megawatt wind turbines at the end of 2012.

A new turbine blade rotor assembly is ready to be hoisted to the nacelle at the top of an 80-meter wind tower.

A new turbine blade rotor assembly is ready to be hoisted to the nacelle at the top of an 80-meter wind tower.

Colorado Highlands Wind, which is located approximately 25 miles northeast of Sterling, Colo., is the second major wind resource for Tri-State. The association also has a power purchase agreement with Duke Energy to receive the energy output from its 51-megawatt Kit Carson Windpower site, located approximately seven miles north of Burlington, Colo. Continue reading ‘Colorado Highlands Wind growing from 67 MWs to 91 MWs’

United Power shows off Colorado’s largest co-op-sponsored solar site

Left to right: United Power CEO Ron Asche, Jerry Marizza, also with United, Everod and Claudia Samuel of Samuel Engineering, and United Power’s director of external affairs Troy Whitmore.

Left to right: United Power CEO Ron Asche, Jerry Marizza, also with United, Everod and Claudia Samuel of Samuel Engineering, and United Power’s director of external affairs Troy Whitmore.

Tri-State member system United Power (Brighton, Colo.) hosted an open house at its 2.28-megawatt Hanger 160 Solar Project yesterday (July 22) in rural Adams County, about 20 miles north of Denver.

Although the 10-acre, photovoltaic (PV) solar array has been generating renewable energy for the co-op’s 70,000 member-consumers for more than three months, this was the first opportunity for the co-op’s staff to invite its members, directors and other local officials to have a first-hand look at what is being called the largest PV solar system in Colorado that is directly tied to a distribution network.

United’s staff provided visitors with breakfast and guided tours during the morning event.

“The Hanger 160 Solar Project is a great example of one of the ways that we are demonstrating renewable and other alternative energy solutions to our membership,” said Troy Whitmore, director of external affairs for the co-op. United Power is also the first and only Tri-State member co-op to purchase up to 3.2 megawatts of generation fueled from landfill gas — collected at the Erie Landfill site in northern Colorado.

Tri-State supports the development of local renewable energy projects by its member systems with financial incentives and assistance, as approved by the association’s board of directors.

Continue reading ‘United Power shows off Colorado’s largest co-op-sponsored solar site’

Gov. Hickenlooper signs controversial renewable energy bill into law

On June 5 Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law SB 252, a hotly-contested piece of legislation passed by both chambers of the Colorado Legislature that doubles the renewable energy requirements for Tri-State.

HickenlooperSigning_PTWThe new law will require Tri-State to derive at least 20 percent of its power supply from renewable resources by 2020 — twice the amount the G&T was obligated to meet under existing legislation that was passed in 2007.

Tri-State, the Colorado Rural Electric Association and a broad range of stakeholders — including the state’s leading business groups, rural coalitions, agricultural producers and labor unions — joined forces to oppose the bill and asked the governor to veto it.

“We met with Governor Hickenlooper twice to discuss rural communities’ significant concerns with the bill,” said Kent Singer, executive director of the Colorado Rural Electric Association. “By the time the bill arrived at his desk, the many flaws in the bill could be addressed only with a veto. We asked him to veto the bill and convene an inclusive stakeholder process that could have led to a compromise.”

The new law will impact Tri-State’s current operations and its ongoing efforts to develop additional renewable resources.

“We shared with the Governor how we are meeting our obligation under the existing renewable energy mandate and how the bill introduces new risks for our existing facilities and renewable projects that were planned prior to the introduction of the bill,” said Tri-State general manager and executive vice president Ken Anderson. “Regrettably for rural Coloradans, the Governor chose to sign a flawed bill into flawed law.”

Tri-State will continue to evaluate the new law to determine appropriate next steps to best protect the interests of its member co-ops, their member-owners and the communities that depend on the association’s existing facilities.

United Power solar project is ready for its close-up

Hangar-160-UP-videoTri-State member system United Power (Brighton, Colo.) has finished construction on its 2-megawatt photovoltaic solar array, referred to as Hangar 160, in rural northern Adams County near the intersection of Highway 7 and Colorado Blvd. The project consists of 7,500 panels and is the largest electric co-op-served solar field in the state of Colorado.

Jerry Marizza, new energy program coordinator for United Power said, “It was a year and a half in the making, but once construction started it was basically a two month project from dirt clods to electrons.”

Colorado Highlands Wind facility to expand by 36 percent

Colorado-Highlands-Wind-expansionColorado’s newest renewable energy facility is already growing.  The current 67-megawatt Colorado Highlands Wind project – from which Tri-State receives 100 percent of the power – is expanding to 91 megawatts.  Construction, using 14 GE turbines, is expected to commence in July and be completed this fall.

Tri-State has a 20-year power purchase agreement to receive all the electricity and environmental attributes from the facility, which is jointly owned by Alliance Power, Inc. of Littleton, Colo., and GE Energy Financial Services of Stamford, Conn.  The wind farm was constructed in 2012 and became operational in December.  It is located on 6,640 acres in northeast Colorado’s Logan County – in the service territory of Tri-State member co-op Highline Electric Association.

“Colorado Highlands Wind has been performing extremely well since being brought on-line late last year,” said Tri-State senior vice president Brad Nebergall.  “The original engineering and design accommodated up to 91 megawatts – which is the maximum that the existing transmission interconnection can support.  So now that the additional 14 turbines are available, we are pleased to move forward with its full build-out after Tri-State’s board of directors approved the expansion at its February 2013 meeting,” he said.

“Colorado Highlands Wind is pleased to enable Tri-State to complete the original vision of the project, capturing its full efficiency and benefits,” said Jim Michael, managing member for Colorado Highlands Wind.

Colorado-Highlands-Wind-expansion_02The expansion coincides with an RFP (request for proposals) process for additional renewable energy supply that Tri-State is currently undertaking.  Tri-State issued the RFP in mid-February and is presently analyzing the proposals that were submitted by the April 2 deadline – and intends to review a short list of the top prospects with its board of directors within the next couple of months.

“The current competitive pricing in the renewable energy sector – particularly wind – encouraged us to explore market opportunities to add an additional project or projects to Tri-State’s renewable resource portfolio through the RFP process,” Nebergall said.  “At the same time, we realize the value we’ll be receiving through the Colorado Highlands Wind expansion.”

Colorado Highlands Wind is currently one of three utility-scale renewable energy facilities from which Tri-State receives all of the electrical output and renewable energy credits.  In 2010 the wholesale power supplier began purchasing the electricity generated at the 51-megawatt Kit Carson Windpower Project in eastern Colorado as well as the 30-megawatt Cimarron Solar Facility in northeastern New Mexico.

In addition, Tri-State’s member co-ops have another 45 megawatts of local, community-based renewable and distributed generation projects in operation or scheduled to be operational later this year.

Tri-State issues RFP for renewable resources

Colorado-Highlands-Wind-project_090Tri-State issued a request for proposals for renewable energy supply on Feb. 13, which is aimed at taking advantage of current competitive market prices, while continuing to assist its member co-ops in Colorado and New Mexico in meeting their renewable portfolio standard requirements.

“Given the recently extended Federal Production Tax Credit and sustained competitive pricing in the renewable energy sector, we felt this was a good time to explore adding an additional project or projects to Tri-State’s renewable resource portfolio,” said business development manager (energy resources) Susan Hunter.

Hunter explained that the RFP is intended to solicit bids for resources that will begin construction prior to the end of 2013 in order to qualify for the Federal Production Tax Credit and be in service before the end of 2014. Continue reading ‘Tri-State issues RFP for renewable resources’

Video highlights of Colorado Highlands Wind dedication

Colorado-Highlands-Wind-dedicationAs previously reported, on Dec. 20 Tri-State helped celebrate the completion of Colorado’s newest renewable energy facility – the Colorado Highlands Wind project on the state’s eastern plains. The association has a 20-year agreement to purchase all the electricity generated at the 67-megawatt wind farm.

Tri-State’s communications team was on hand at the event and has put together a three-minute video highlight reel of the day’s events.

Tri-State celebrates completion of Colorado Highlands Wind project

Colorado-Highlands-Wind-project-dedication_64Tri-State celebrated the completion of Colorado’s newest renewable energy facility at the Dec. 20 dedication of the Colorado Highlands Wind project in northeast Colorado. Tri-State was joined at the event by the project’s joint owners, Alliance Power, Inc. of Centennial, Colo., and GE Energy Financial Services of Stamford, Conn., as well as several state, county and local elected officials.

Tri-State has a 20-year power purchase agreement to buy the electricity from the 67-megawatt wind farm, which is located on a 5,200-acre site in northeast Colorado’s Logan County, within the service territory of Tri-State member co-op Highline Electric Association.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper voiced his support of the project and offered his congratulations. “Our state has long been a global leader in the area of wind, solar and other sources of renewable energy. This is because we have the fortune of attracting leaders such as Tri-State who work to increase the amount of renewable resources in our energy mix. We look forward to witnessing the positive impacts of the Colorado Highlands Wind project,” Gov. Hickenlooper said.

“The Colorado Highlands Wind project presented a great opportunity for Tri-State and our member electric co-ops,” said Tri-State senior vice president/energy management Brad Nebergall. “It increases the amount of renewable resources in our energy mix and further diversifies our overall generation portfolio – while also assisting our members to meet their obligations under state renewable portfolio standards.”

“We’re pleased that the project is located within Highline Electric’s service territory,” said Mark Farnsworth, manager of the local electric co-op. “We support Tri-State’s continued efforts in securing reliable, affordable and responsible power on our behalf and we also appreciate the economic development opportunities that the project provides in this part of the state.”

Colorado-Highlands-Wind-project-dedication_35Jim Michael, managing member for Colorado Highlands Wind, oversaw the six-month construction process. He said, “We are pleased that this project was successfully completed on time and will be providing cost-effective renewable energy to Tri-State and its members for the next 20 years. This project demonstrates the ability of utilities, private enterprise and government agencies to work together to meet growing energy demands with economical renewable technologies that will bring lasting benefits to society.”

Colorado Highlands Wind is the third utility-scale renewable energy facility from which Tri-State receives all of the electrical output and renewable energy credits. In 2010 the G&T began purchasing the electricity generated at the 51-megawatt Kit Carson Windpower Project in eastern Colorado as well as the 30-megawatt Cimarron Solar Facility in northeastern New Mexico.

  • View photos from the event

Colorado Highlands Wind nearing completion

The world’s second largest crane is used to “fly” rotor assemblies into place at the top of one of 42 wind turbines comprising this project.

The 67-megawatt Colorado Highlands Wind project, now under construction in northeastern Colorado, is expected to begin commercial operation by early next month, according to Jim Michael, managing member of Colorado Highlands Wind, LLC, the owner and operator of the new facility.

Tri-State signed a 20-year power purchase agreement for the project last February and since then construction has ramped up rapidly to take advantage of the Federal Production Tax Credit that is due to expire at the end of this year.

Up to 200 employees from RMT Energy — the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor — as well as local trade and craft personnel have been working on the project seven days a week through the summer months when temperatures reached a blistering 107 degrees.

The state’s latest wind farm features state-of-the-art wind turbine design and technology. The diameter of the triple-bladed rotors extend 100 meters across, instead of the more typical 80 meters found on older wind turbines. Each of the 1.6-megawatt GE wind turbine generators utilize blades constructed out of carbon fiber and each of the blades is equipped with wind velocity sensors that instantly adjust blade pitch for maximum efficiency and performance. Continue reading ‘Colorado Highlands Wind nearing completion’

Colorado Highlands Wind site construction ramping up

The first of 42 wind tower generators is being assembled at the Colorado Highlands Wind project near Sterling, Colo.

According to a recent construction update provided to Tri-State, the Colorado Highlands Wind project is progressing on schedule with much of the site’s infrastructure – including the switchyard and operations and maintenance building – nearing completion.

Recently, contractors began assembling the first of 42 wind turbine generators (shown in photo) on the site located near Sterling, Colo.  The 67-megawatt wind farm, scheduled for completion in December 2012, will sell all of its output to Tri-State under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

As of the end of August, all access roads to the wind turbine generator locations were complete, all FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), county and state permits have been received and a total of 39 wind turbine base and pedestal foundations have been poured.

Wind site activities underway in September include the completion of all foundations and crane pads for the wind turbines, installation and assembly of the main power transformer, commissioning and energization of the Wildhorse Creek Switchyard and the continued assembly of the site’s wind turbine generators.

Each of the GE wind turbines has a nameplate capacity rating of 1.6 megawatts. Testing of the wind turbines is expected to begin in late October and continue through most of November.

The Colorado Highlands Wind project, which is located in Tri-State member Highline Electric Association’s (Holyoke, Colo.) service territory, will mark the second of two major wind resources for Tri-State. The 51-megawatt Kit Carson Windpower site, located seven miles north of Burlington, Colo., was commissioned and began producing power for Tri-State at the end of 2010.

Kit Carson Electric dedicates solar projects

Tri-State member Kit Carson Electric (Taos, N.M.) has marked the initial operations of two solar power facilities that use differing technologies and ownership arrangements to harvest energy from the sun.

Kit Carson hosted the late August dedication ceremony at the Taos Charter School, site of a 98.7-kilowatt community solar garden, the first in the state. The ceremony also marked the start of operations at the 1.5-megawatt Blue Sky Energy array, located near the Rio Grande Gorge, about five miles north.

Blue Sky Energy, which came on-line Aug. 1, is made up of 5,280 photovoltaic panels and utilizes a tracking array that follows the sun’s path.  It is projected to produce about 3.3 million kilowatt-hours of energy in its first year.

The significantly smaller Taos Charter School array, with 420 fixed panels expected to produce about 160,000 kWh of energy annually, went into operation Aug. 22. It is noteworthy for opening solar power to community ownership.

The array is owned by the Clean Energy Collective, a Colorado company. Under the community solar model it pioneered, Clean Energy constructs, maintains and warranties the solar gardens, and Kit Carson acquires the power they produce.

Consumers can purchase the Taos Charter School array’s 235-watt panels for $845, and the co-op will provide a credit on their monthly bills for the energy produced. Panel owners receive tax credits and electricity discounts as if the panels were installed on their own roof.

Read more at Electric Co-op Today