Archive for the 'electric cooperatives' Category

Tri-State employees give generously through clothing drive

To say Tri-State’s firsthq_bin annual business clothing drive was merely a success would be an understatement. Employees at headquarters and the Northern Colorado Maintenance Center came out in full force over a two-week period to help those less fortunate get on their feet and interview-ready.

The drive resulted in the donation by employees of hundreds of clothing items to Dress For Success Denver and the Denver Rescue Mission. Dress for Success Denver is nonprofit organization that provides interview-appropriate clothing, employment retention programs and one-on-one executive coaching to low-income women seeking employment, while the Denver Rescue Mission is dedicated to helping people in need return to society as productive, self-sufficient citizens.

The clothing drive is part of Tri-State’s ongoing commitment to serve the communities in which we live and work. 

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.

 

SMPA bringing cost-efficient lighting to co-op-served communities

CP-Norwood250-captureTri-State member system San Miguel Power Association (Nucla, Colo.), will brighten the holidays this season in several of its co-op-served towns with a project to convert old technology streetlights to high efficiency LED fixtures that will deliver superior illumination and significant cost savings.

Tri-State supports these projects through its Energy Efficiency Products (EPP) program that is designed to partner with its members to offer rebate incentives to their co-op consumers who install energy efficient technologies such as LED lighting, heating and cooling equipment, and other electric products, that offer value to its members and the consumers they serve.

San Miguel Power’s municipal lighting project is planned for multiple phases beginning with the town of Norwood, where a total of 43 existing streetlights will be upgraded from obsolete mercury vapor and high pressure sodium lamps to LED illumination. To kick off the project, the first lamp (shown in photo) was recently installed at the corner of Market Street and Grand Avenue in Norwood to showcase the new brighter white lights to the public.

The co-op’s key accounts representative, Paul Hora, is encouraging feedback on the new lights and noted that $8,700 investment should yield an annual savings of nearly $2,900 plus reduced maintenance costs, since the lights are projected to have a 15 to 20-year lifespan.

Norwood’s town administrator, Patti Grafmyer, projects that the lighting retrofit will pay for itself in approximately two-and-a-half years.

Similar upgrades are also planned for Nucla and Naturita. In Nucla, the town will replace 58 fixtures for a savings of approximately $3,800 and 100 fixtures will be changed out in Naturita for a lighting tariff reduction of nearly $6,500.

San Miguel’s Hora said that the co-op also plans commercial lighting upgrades in 2016 in the towns of Ridgway, Rico and Silverton for a total of approximately 200 upgraded LED streetlights.

As is often case in many co-op served communities, San Miguel Power’s crews are also out helping everyone get in the holiday spirit by stringing LED holiday lights throughout the communities that they serve.

For High West Energy it’s all about the brands

Highwestpic250There’s a rich ranching heritage within Tri-State member High West Energy’s three-state service territory, and the co-op is saluting it in a most unusual way.

“Over the years, more than 500 brands have been registered in High West’s service territory,” says Brian  Heithoff, CEO and general manager of the Pine Bluffs, Wyo.-based co-op. “It is our goal to have as many of those brands as possible represented in our office.”

For nearly 30 years, seeing some of those brands has been part of the regular workday for dozens of staffers at the coop’s headquarters. The co-op took over an old John Deere dealership building back in 1988 and inherited a tradition likely born in the mind of a tractor salesman decades before to promote customer goodwill. Read more

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.

NM jury affirms cooperative business model in Las Conchas fire trial

A jury in the Sandoval County District Court affirmed that Tri-State is not responsible for the actions of Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative, Inc. (JMEC), one of its 44 member distribution cooperatives, in a trial stemming from the 2011 Las Conchas Fire in New Mexico.

During the trial, Tri-State maintained it had a strong legal position in the case regarding its operations being separate from JMEC and the members of the jury agreed. The jury supported the cooperative’s arguments that JMEC and Tri-State did not operate as a joint venture or joint enterprise.

“We appreciate the jury’s recognition of the cooperative business model and that JMEC and Tri-State operate independently,” said Lee Boughey, senior manager of communications and public affairs for Tri-State.

The jury found JMEC, Tri-State and the United States Forest Service were comparatively negligent in the Las Conchas fire.

“Tri-State is disappointed with the negligence verdict, but we are nonetheless thankful to the jury for the time they have devoted to the trial,” said Boughey.

Tri-State maintains it had a strong defense and the correct legal position in the case and will consider all of its legal options.

The trial in the Sandoval County District Court began Oct. 1. The civil lawsuit was filed by a number of plaintiffs, including the Cochiti and Jemez pueblos, against JMEC and Tri-State for damages stemming from the 2011 Las Conchas Fire. The issue of the amount of damages, if any, will be determined in a later trial.

The fire started when an aspen tree, located on private land approximately 50 feet beyond the edge of JMEC’s 20-foot right-of-way for an electric distribution line, fell into JMEC’s line during a period of strong winds. The U.S. Forest Service granted the right-of-way easement to the cooperative to operate the line.

“In this case, a tree located far from the line’s right-of-way and in apparently healthy condition was blown over by a wind gust,” said Boughey. “Given the tree’s location and condition, it could not have been identified by JMEC as posing a threat to the line.”

During the trial, both JMEC and Tri-State argued that JMEC was not negligent and followed distribution cooperative industry standards and practices for line clearance and tree trimming.

The jury found JMEC 75 percent negligent, Tri-State 20 percent negligent and the US Forest Service 5 percent negligent.

“Utilities operate power lines and maintain rights-of-way to ensure safety and to protect their communities,” said Boughey. “We feel deeply for those in the Cochiti and Jemez pueblos and the other plaintiffs who were affected by the fire.”

Tri-State to help support carbon capture R&D at Basin plant

Dryforksta250Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Dry Fork Station (Gillette, Wyo.) will host a new research facility underwritten by the state of Wyoming with help from Tri-State and other electric cooperatives to develop commercially viable uses for carbon dioxide produced by power plants.

Tri-State is a Class A member of Basin Electric and also shares ownership in the Bismarck, N.D.-based G&T’s Laramie River Station near Wheatland, Wyo.

“We are making an investment in the future of coal,” Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said in announcing the plans for the new Integrated Test Center on Oct. 8. “The research at the ITC will lead to new opportunities in petrochemicals and other commercial uses.

Wyoming, the nation’s leading coal-producing state, is financing 75 percent of the $20 million project. Tri-State and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association have also pledged significant contributions to the project.

“This facility allows us to provide the same leadership in research and to do all we can to make sure the coal industry can continue to serve Wyoming and the country for many years to come,” said Mead.

Dry Fork Station is one of a number of coal-based generation facilities in Basin’s generation fleet that supplies power to its member cooperatives, including Tri-State.

The XPRIZE Foundation has agreed to be one of the first tenants in the Integrated Test Center. The international Philanthropic group recently announced a $20 million global competition to encourage development of new uses for CO2.

The ITC will be completed in time to host the final phase of the Carbon XPRIZE, which is scheduled to begin in late 2017.

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.

 

Feds: Expect lower heating bills this winter

Winterheating250Consumers can expect to pay less this winter because of lower fuels costs and more moderate temperatures, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said Oct. 6.

In its Winter Fuels Outlook, EIA also said residential heating bills will be at their lowest level in three years.

According to EIA, residential ratepayers who use electricity as their primary sources of warmth will spend an average of $930 on heating costs from October through March. That represents a decrease of $30 in average costs compared with the same period one year ago.

Electricity is the primary heating fuel in the South and is used extensively by consumer-members of the nation’s electric cooperatives. About 39 percent of all U.S. households rely on electricity for heat, ranging from 15 percent in the Northeast to 63 percent in the South, EIA said.

Natural gas users will spend an average of $578 on heating costs, or $64 less than last winter.

Propane costs for the average home using that fuel as a primary heating source will be about $322 lower at $1,437.

EIA analysts also noted a $459 decline in winter cost to $1,437 for average homes using heating oil.

Meteorologists at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration are forecasting winter temperatures 13 percent warmer in the Northeast, 11 percent warmer in the Midwest and 8 percent warmer in the South.

DMEA donates fresh 4-H meat to local food banks

DMEAmeatshare250Fresh food is a rare commodity at food banks, but two pantries in Colorado received a special treat recently when Tri-State member, Delta-Montrose Electric Association (Montrose, Colo.), donated hundreds pounds of fresh meat to help feed families in the region.

As shown in the photo to the left, DMEA board members Bill Patterson (left) and Kyle Martinez (right) helped delivered 320 pounds of lamb and pork to Michelle Overmyer of Sharing Ministries in Montrose. In addition, the co-op also donated about 350 pounds of bacon and sausage to the Hotchkiss Community Methodist Church Food Bank worth about $700.

The donated meat is farm fresh, straight from junior 4H Livestock shows at local county fairs. The co-op also paid a local plant to process the meat.

“This year, by donating the meat we were able to make our support go further in our community and impact members we may have not have reached before,” said Becky Mashburn, the co-op’s marketing and public relations administrator.

Sharon Teter, of the Hotchkiss Food Bank, said it will take about two months to distribute the meat; the bank serves about 340 families every two months in the four communities that it serves.

The remainder of the pork and sausage, which went to Montrose Sharing Ministries, is being distributed to local families in need. “We distribute one pound of meat per person, or two, if we have an abundance of meat, which isn’t very often,” said Kathi Crandall of the Montrose Sharing Ministries. “It’s very exciting when we get meat donated like we got from DMEA,” she added.

 

Tri-Staters, co-ops pedal plains for fundraiser

PowerplainsteamLast weekend (Sept. 18-20), more than 800 bicycling enthusiasts turned out for Colorado’s fourth annual Pedal the Plains event that this year took riders on a 172-mile trek looping from the eastern plains towns of Julesburg to Holyoke to Sterling and back to Julesburg for the finish of the tour.

The Pedal the Plains is a celebration of Colorado’s agricultural roots and the state’s frontier heritage on the eastern plains. The bike route included education stops along the way at local farms, places to climb on machinery, opportunities to check out animals and time to celebrate Sugar Beet Days in Sterling.

Among the riders was the 17-member Powering the Plains bike team (pictured) comprised of staff and friends of Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, as well as Terri Marranzino-Ray and Jeff Lines from Tri-State. According to Mona Neeley, director of communications for Colorado Rural Electric Association, the team helped raise more than $3,000 for Energy Outreach Colorado, which provides assistance to Colorado’s neediest families and seniors for their home energy needs. Donations are being accepted through Oct. 15.

In addition to the fundraiser, Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives also co-sponsored this successful event. Among this year’s electric co-ops supporting the bike tour were Highline Electric Association, K.C. Electric Association, Morgan County REA, Mountain View Electric Association, Poudre Valley REA and San Isabel Electric Association.

 

United Power, Tri-State assist with efficient lighting for nonprofit riding center

CTRC250The Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center (CTRC), a nonprofit organization based in Longmont that is devoted to changing the lives of people with disabilities by promoting equine assisted activities, was recently retrofitted with high efficiency LED light bulbs throughout their facility.

This project was made possible with funding from Tri-State member United Power, Tri-State’s Energy Efficiency Products (EEP) incentive program, rebates from Boulder County’s Clean Environment Program and Elevation Lighting Services Co., which donated the installation of the LED lights.

The project was spearheaded by United’s Bill Meier, who assists with energy efficiency upgrades and rebates for its membership.

“Initially, we noticed that the center could save a significant amount of money if they could afford a lighting upgrade, but with a limited budget, the project wasn’t their top priority,” said Meier. “But it’s not just about dollar savings when we work with our members. By working cooperatively with other community organizations to make a project like this happen, we can truly make life better for our members,” he added.

“Since the installation, staff members, volunteers and even the horses are seeing a difference,” said Heather McLaughlin,  CTRC program director. “The new lighting system has made the office environment more comfortable for families and the tack room is better illuminated, providing volunteers easier access to equipment. As for the horses at CTRC, they are striding into the arena a bit more confidently,” she said.

Funding for the project was derived from a $5,000 grant from United Power’s Operation Round-Up Foundation, a charitable organization funded by co-op members who “round-up” their electric bill to the next full dollar amount.

CTRC also received nearly $3,700 in rebates from Tri-State’s EEP program that provides incentives to member consumers of its 44 electric co-ops and public power districts who install energy efficient appliances and other equipment that helps them save money on their electric bills.

Boulder County’s Partners for a Clean Environment also provided nearly $4,900 in rebates to this community project.

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

 

Colorado’s Touchstone Energy co-ops help raise record $531,300 at livestock sale

Tylersteer250Cowboy and cowgirl hats are officially off to Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives who were among the sponsors of annual Junior Livestock Sale held Sept. 1 at the Colorado State Fair, which raised a record $531,300 benefitting Colorado’s youth involved in Future Farmers of America and 4-H programming.

Tri-State and its member Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are proud to be long-time supporters of this event and the 4-H and FFA organizations that are rooted in rural communities served by many of association’s 44 member cooperatives and public power districts.

The auction is the pre-eminent opportunity for young agriculturalists to literally see the value of their hard work. More than 90 steers, hogs lambs, goats, rabbits and chickens hit the auction block at the Southwest Motors Events Center in Pueblo.

Among this year’s participants was Tyler Camblin (pictured) of Holyoke, Colo. Tyler is the son of Kris Camblin, line superintendent for Tri-State member Highline Electric Association. His 1,293-pound steer, Diesel, won the division 4 category at the auction. The Denver Rustlers purchased the Camblin’s steer for $4,200, which his mother, Marla Camblin, says he will put towards his college education.

This year’s Junior Livestock Sale raised about $50,000 more than last year’s auction total of $481,200.

“This sale is the culmination of long hours and dedicated work of Colorado’s 4-H and FFA exhibitors. The participants are a showcase of tomorrow’s agricultural leaders,” said Chris Wiseman, state fair general manager.

 

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.

Volunteer linemen needed in Haiti next month

Haitipic250The National Rural Electric Association’s (NRECA) International Foundation has asked for our help in putting out a call for volunteer Class A certified journeymen linemen to travel to Haiti between Sept. 5-29 to assist in bringing electricity to the rural communities of this Caribbean nation.

In 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake brought massive destruction to the island country, killing more than 230,000 people, injuring 300,000 and leaving more than a million inhabitants homeless.

If you are a qualified lineman, have availability between Sept 5-29, the NRECA International Foundation needs your help in Haiti. No previous international experience is necessary. If you are interested or would like to learn more about this program, contact Maria Wimsatt at maria.wimsatt@nreca.coop or call 703-907-5645.

The NRECA International Foundation is the charitable arm of NRECA and helps to bring electricity and its inherent benefits to the people of rural areas in developing countries.

The foundation delivers electricity to developing countries by coordinating and supporting co-op employees throughout the U.S. Co-ops participate by sending employees who volunteer their skills, donating used vehicles and electric equipment and providing funding.

 

DMEA using prepay to help past-due members

DMEA250Past-due accounts are a sore spot for utilities. But one Tri-State member co-op found an innovative way to help members pay off what they owe and get on a sound financial footing.

The offer is this: Sign up for My Choice prepaid metering and you’ll be eligible for help with past-due balances.

“If a member comes in with a disconnect notice they have the option to pay in full for their power to be turned back on, or enroll in the My Choice program,” said Becky Mashburn, marketing and public relations administrator at Delta-Montrose Electric Association (Montrose, Colo.).

“A member can roll over up to $500 of their past-due balance onto My Choice. As they put money on their account 30 percent goes to pay off the old balance and 70 percent goes to the purchase of new electricity,” Mashburn said.

Prepay, she added, “offers a permanent solution for eliminating the fees that can add up when members get behind—late fees, disconnect fees, and reconnect fees. With My Choice, there are no fees, and members are able to be take control of their energy costs, rather than falling further behind.”

Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC), a non-profit providing energy assistance to low-income residents, has committed $100,000 to help DMEA members transition to prepay.

Members signing up for My Choice are eligible to receive EOC funds to reduce past-due balances. EOC money can also cover the $140 cost of the My Choice in-home display, a device that has dual benefits.

“It is the best and easiest way for members to see what they are using and receive notifications about their account balance. This leads to energy efficiency because members become more aware of how much energy they are using daily, and make behavioral changes to lower their usage,” said Mashburn.

The co-op is also partnering with its local Health and Human Service Departments to promote My Choice as a solution for people who chronically struggle with past-due balances.

Pedal the Plains with Colorado’s electric co-ops

Pedalplains250Register now to join Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives as they participate in the Pedal the Plains event next month.

The annual 172-mile bike ride around northeastern Colorado will be held Sept. 18-20, looping from Julesburg to Holyoke to Sterling and back to Julesburg. Now in its fourth year, the tour is expected to draw 1,200 riders and their support teams to northeastern Colorado, where the rural areas are served by electric co-ops.

The ride includes educational stops along the route that teach riders about the agricultural roots and frontier heritage of the eastern plains of the Centennial State.  There will be opportunities to stop at farms along the route, places to climb on machinery, chances to check out the animals and time to celebrate Saturday night Sugar Beet Days in Sterling.

The co-ops, which are among the supporters for the ride, will also sponsor bike team riding under the “Powering the Plains” banner.  This team will raise money for Energy Outreach Colorado. To pledge your support for the team’s worthy cause visit poweringtheplains.coop. To sign up for the ride contact Colorado Country Life’s associate editor Donna Wallin at dwallin@coloradocountrylife.org.

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]

 

LAT panel offers insight into member system operations

July-LATrevisedWhile each of Tri-State’s 44 member systems works toward the goal of providing reliable, affordable electricity for its members, all face unique challenges on the way to that goal. And at the July 13 Leaders as Teachers session, held at headquarters in Westminster, Colo., Tri-State employees gained a little more insight into the challenges and rewards the leaders of our member systems face.

Matthew Collins (pictured left) of Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative (CNMEC), Mark Farnsworth (pictured right) of Highline Electric Association in Colorado and Tim Lindahl (center of photo) of Wheat Belt Public Power District in Nebraska spent an hour providing an overview of their individual cooperatives, as well as their take on changes in the industry.

Looking at demographics, CNMEC employs 70 people and serves primarily a residential load. With 52 employees, Highline has irrigation as the majority of its load. And with a lean staff of just 27 employees, Wheat Belt serves one-third irrigation, one-third industrial, and one-third everything else, with an average of two miles of line per customer. But despite their unique features, each member system came back to a key theme – the importance of serving both members and employees while responding to the ever-changing industry.

Leaders as Teachers is a monthly noontime program featuring speakers and sometimes panels of people who provide unique insights into the various issues and topics of interest in the electric industry. All Tri-State employees have an opportunity to see and hear the presentations either on site or remotely.

Co-op youth camp kicks off with Broncos player appearance

BlogyouthTri-State and its Touchstone Energy Cooperatives decided to bring a little added team spirit to the opening day of the week-long (July 12-17) 2015 Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp near Steamboat Springs, Colo., by helping to arrange a brief appearance by Ben Garland, Denver Broncos’ starting left guard, who was more than happy to talk the nearly 100 teen campers about his impressive career journey.

Garland talked about growing up in a small rural Colorado community, his military career in the Air Force and his plans to help the Broncos win the Super Bowl.  His overall message to the campers: “Never count yourself out no matter what the odds. Set your sights on a goal and with dedication and commitment you will achieve that goal.”

The kids attending this year’s youth camp are 16-years old and over and are selected by their local electric co-ops in the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Wyoming. The electric co-ops shoulder 100 percent of the cost of the kids attending the camp. In addition, employees of the sponsoring co-ops, including Tri-State staff, assist in organizing activities, putting on presentations and other support-related duties during the week.

Fitch: Court’s Mercury Ruling Has Limited Impact

TVA-Cumberland-plant-240x157The Supreme Court’s decision admonishing the Environmental Protection Agency for sidestepping the costs of its mercury regulations will have limited impact on electric cooperatives and public power utilities, Fitch Ratings says.

The Supreme Court’s mercury ruling is likely to have limited real-world impact on coal-based power plants, Fitch Ratings says.

The ratings service said July 1 that most public power and electric cooperatives that it tracks already have complied with the 3-year-old rule or are taking steps to do so. [Read more]

 

Transmission West hosts demonstration of rope access live-line maintenance

Kyleonharness (2)On June 30, with temperatures in the high 90s, Tri-State’s Montrose-based line maintenance crews (as well as Cheyenne-based personnel) climbed into their bare hand suits and scaled a 150-foot steel transmission tower on the association’s Montrose to Grand Junction, 345-kV line to replace a broken insulator string and demonstrate rope access live-line procedures to visiting utility personnel, including two guests from as far away as England.

Tri-State’s line crews are among the industry leaders in this unique procedure, which is used primarily in situations where the rugged terrain at a site doesn’t allow for the use of aerial bucket trucks and other ground support equipment typically used in tansmission line maintenance.

“The main difference in this rope access procedure of live-line work is that instead of our crews working out of a bucket truck or off of a hot stick ladder they are dangling from a rope harness in the air to conduct their work,” explained Mac Fellin, West-side transmission maintenance manager.  “Ultimately this procedure is safer than the conventional method, reduces time in setup and preparation and results in lower maintenance costs overall,” he added.

Attendees at the demonstration included transmission personnel from Western Area Power Administration, Salt River Project, Bonneville Power Administration, Nebraska Public Power District and two linemen from National Grid Company, based in England.

Brokaw reflects on rural electric cooperatives’ role in innovation

BrokawAt the luncheon preceding the National Cooperative Services Corporation (NCSC) Annual Meeting during CFC Forum 2015, legendary newsman and best-selling author Tom Brokaw addressed the crowd and shared his thoughts on our nation’s history and the underlining theme of “Big Ideas” throughout our past.

“America―the United States―represents the greatest ‘big idea’ in mankind” Brokaw said. “We are the most innovative country, finding a way to get to the next place by working together.”

Rural electric cooperatives have played a role in that history of innovation and will continue to do so, Brokaw noted.

“You [in this room] really represent the essence of America. You come from heartland America, you provide extraordinary services and you work together cooperatively,” Brokaw said. “You do represent the future of this country. Not just the past, but where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.”

Brokaw discussed some of our nation’s most influential and important big ideas, from Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence to John F. Kennedy and the race to the moon with the Soviet Union. His vast personal experience as a reporter, being a witness to “big ideas” like the civil rights movement and fall of the Berlin Wall, provided deeper meaning to his personal narrative.

In looking ahead, Brokaw projected that the next election will play a pivotal role in future of our nation, as it may “Kick-start the American dream, kick-start the next big idea.”

For our nation’s future success, Brokaw stressed the importance of education and public service. Americans acquiring technical skills to incorporate into their careers will “change the equation of public service in America,” he said.

Tri-State and Iberdrola Renewables announce wind power agreement

iberdola-wind250Iberdrola Renewables today announced a 25-year contract to supply Tri-State with renewable energy from the planned Twin Buttes II Wind Project. Tri-State will purchase the entire output of the 76-megawatt (MW) wind farm, when the project is expected to be completed in 2017.

The Twin Buttes II project will consist of 38 wind turbines located on 11,000 acres of land 23 miles south of Lamar, Colo., near Iberdrola Renewables’ existing Twin Buttes Wind Project. The new project will produce enough energy to power the approximate equivalent of 30,000 average Colorado households. It is expected to deliver approximately $270,000 in local tax benefits and $250,000 in landowner lease payments annually.

“In 2014, approximately 24 percent of the energy Tri-State and its member systems delivered to cooperative members was generated from renewable resources, making us one of the leading utilities in the country for using renewable power,” noted Brad Nebergall, Tri-State’s senior vice president of energy management. “The Twin Buttes II Wind Project further reinforces our commitment to a diverse generation fleet built on cost-effective resources. We’d like to thank our partners at Iberdrola Renewables and our member system Southeast Colorado Power Association, who will host this outstanding project in their service territory.”

“Southeast Colorado Power welcomes this expansion as positive economic development and power source diversification that will benefit member-owners within our service territory,” added Jack Johnston, the rural electric cooperative’s chief executive officer.

“We’re excited to welcome this investment in our community,” said Ron Cook, the Chairman of the Prowers County Commission. “Renewable energy has already proven to be a good neighbor, by providing substantial local economic benefits to the individual leaseholders and the larger community as a whole. It diversifies and strengthens the area’s agricultural economic base.”

“Wind is the most drought-resistant crop we have, and it’s delivered valuable economic stability to a number of family farmers and ranchers in the area,” said Val Emick, a landowner at Twin Buttes II and the operating Colorado Green wind farm. “Working with an experienced developer and operator like Iberdrola Renewables gives us a lot of confidence that Twin Buttes II will expand a successful partnership and help a lot of working families around here.”

“We are happy to support Tri-State’s renewable energy goals with affordable wind energy from our new project,” said Barrett Stambler, vice president of Iberdrola Renewables. “With experience developing, constructing, and managing wind and solar projects in Colorado, we look forward to reliably providing clean power and supporting a new partnership with them.”

Association among proud sponsors of Leopold Conservation Awards

Leopold-CO-2015_-_028250Tri-State and its Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are proud to be among the sponsors of this year’s 2015 Leopold Conservation Award recipients in the states of Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Recently, the association’s staff paid a visit to the Flying Diamond Ranch near Kit Carson, Colo., owned by the Johnson family, who are fifth generation cattle ranchers and this year’s recipients of the 2015 Colorado Leopold Conservation Award.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the Leopold Conservation Award recognizes private landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. It is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Land Trust, Tri-State and its member systems.

Electrically served by Tri-State member K.C. Electric Association ( Hugo, Colo.), the Flying Diamond Ranch is a 25,000-acre, cattle operation that has been in the Johnson family for more than a century. The family’s management philosophy has reflected a personal conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Guided by their principles of holistic management, they have implemented a rotational grazing system that is supported by pipelines and fencing, which allows them to control the environmental impact of the herd.

“The Flying Diamond has done an impressive job of balancing resources with operational needs to create a sustainability show piece that should be an inspiration to us all,” said Frank Daley, president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.

“Tri-State and its member electric cooperatives are proud to support the Leopold Conservation Award,” said Mike McInnes, chief executive officer of Tri-State. “The award recipient’s environmental stewardship reflects the strong conservation ethic of rural communities and their electric cooperatives.”

The Leopold Award consists of a crystal depicting Aldo Leopold and $10,000. This award will be presented to the Johnsons at the Protein Producers Summit in Steamboat Springs on June 15.

Tri-State, SMPA team up for sponsorship of Axel Bicycle Classic in Sept.

axel-1-sm250Later this summer, riders participating in the 48 – or 80-mile charity ride over southwest Colorado’s Dallas Divide into Placerville, or Telluride and back, will be treated to some of the most spectacular mountain scenery that the nation has to offer when the annual Axel Project Bicycle Classic hits the road on Sept. 5 in Ridgway, Colo.

Tri-State, and its member system, San Miguel Power Association (Ridgway and Nucla, Colo.) are proud to be among the sponsors of this event aimed at raising awareness of the recreational and health benefits of kids and their families getting out on their bikes and raising funds to make more bicycles, helmets and equipment available to everyone.

“Tri-State, under the Touchstone Energy Sponsorship fund, and member San Miguel Power each contributed $1,500 to the event, while Basin Electric Power Cooperative (Bismarck, N.D.) provided a matching fund of $2,000, which allowed us to sponsor at the $5,000 level,” said Brad Zaporski, manager of member services at San Miguel Power.

The Axel Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the fundamental principle that a productive, happy life begins with bikes. Their mission is to introduce and nurture a lifelong passion for cycling to children and their families.

The Axel Project was created several years ago in honor of Axel Micah Charrette, who died in February 2013. During his short life this young boy left a mark on almost everyone he came in contact with and his kind soul, joy of life and love of bicycling continues to serve as an inspiration to others.

Participating riders in the Axel Classic will have the enjoyment and satisfaction of knowing that they are promoting a sport that they love (bicycling) while pedaling through some of the most spectacular scenery in the West.

“This event is very important to the Ridgway community and draws a majority of its participants from our service territory and throughout Colorado. This is the co-op’s first year sponsoring this event and we are very pleased to be a part of it,” added Zaporski.

Power, the representative of all the work that electricity does for the consumers of the association’s 44 member electric cooperatives and public power districts, will also make a guest appearance at the kid’s adventure zone during the day’s activities.

Co-ops lead in satisfied consumers

ACSI-2015-240x160[1]250Co-ops are doing it right. Touchstone Energy® member electric cooperatives are once again at the head of the class in a new survey of consumers. [Read more]

 

 

Fossil Ridge High Schoolers are 2015 Matchwits champions

250Congrats to the 2015 Matchwits champions representing Fossil Ridge High School. Tri-State joined Poudre Valley REA and Power Works For You to congratulate the team on their impressive achievement! [Read more]