Archive for the 'Public Outreach' Category

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The region’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives help set new fundraising record

KOSI-Ronald-McDonald-House-radiothon_09KOSI Radio’s “Light the House” Radiothon, held on December 5 and sponsored in part the region’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, set a new fundraising record – exceeding the total amounts raised in the previous two years.

In a single day, more than $170,000 was raised for families in need at the Ronald McDonald Houses in the Denver area.

KOSI-Ronald-McDonald-House-radiothon_25The 13-hour event was broadcast live from the Aurora Ronald McDonald House near the new Children’s Hospital on the Fitzsimons Campus and featured families staying at the house, sponsors, medical professionals and more.

Ronald McDonald House provides temporary housing for families who live at least 60 miles outside the metro area–often in smaller rural communities–and whose children are receiving treatment at Denver area hospitals. The funds raised will help provide a warm, supportive alternative to costly hotels and uncomfortable hospital waiting rooms, as well as home-cooked meals and private living quarters, and an extended network of support from others in similar situations. Learn more at www.ronaldhouse.org.

The region’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives will help “Light The House” tomorrow

The Ronald McDonald House provides a warm, supportive alternative to costly hotels and uncomfortable hospital waiting rooms for out-of-town families.

The Ronald McDonald House provides a warm, supportive alternative to costly hotels and uncomfortable hospital waiting rooms for out-of-town families.

Commitment to community is a key cooperative principle – and Tri-State and the region’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are demonstrating that commitment this season by supporting the 5th annual KOSI 101 and Ronald McDonald House Charities radiothon tomorrow, Dec. 5.

Helping raise money for the Ronald McDonald House is a great fit for Tri-State and its member systems. The charity provides temporary housing for families who live at least 60 miles outside the metro area — often in smaller rural communities — and whose children are receiving treatment at Denver area hospitals.

Providing home-cooked meals, companionship and support are a few of the invaluable ways that the Ronald McDonald House helps families during times of medical crisis.

Providing home-cooked meals, companionship and support are a few of the invaluable ways that the Ronald McDonald House helps families during times of medical crisis.

During the two weeks leading up to the radiothon, KOSI and numerous radio stations throughout Tri-State’s service territory in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming have been airing 60-second vignettes featuring the positive experiences of families who have stayed at the facility, followed by a message from Touchstone Energy cooperatives encouraging listeners to support the radiothon.

“Touchstone Energy cooperatives wholeheartedly embrace the idea of supporting our communities,” said Jim Van Someren, Tri-State communications manager. “In fact, it’s one of the core values on which the brand was founded. And because the Ronald McDonald House directly supports member-consumers of our co-op communities when they need it most, we are supporting the facility in the most effective ways we can.” Continue reading ‘The region’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives will help “Light The House” tomorrow’

Students “Matchwits” at annual high school academic competition

The team from Pikes Peak Christian High School (left) takes on competitors from La Junta High School in a preliminary match during last weekend’s “Matchwits” tournament in Pueblo.

The team from Pikes Peak Christian High School (left) takes on competitors from La Junta High School in a preliminary match during last weekend’s “Matchwits” tournament in Pueblo.

Students representing 16 high schools from across Colorado converged in Pueblo Nov. 8-10 to compete in the “Matchwits” tournament – the academic competition put on by Rocky Mountain PBS (RMPBS) and sponsored by Tri-State and the rest of the state’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.

This is the 29th straight year Colorado’s public television network has organized and held the high school academic quiz show, but 2013 marks the first time the program was opened up to schools throughout the entire state, as opposed to only those in southern Colorado.

“When Rocky Mountain PBS approached us about sponsoring ‘Matchwits,’ we were immediately intrigued,” said Tri-State communications manager Jim Van Someren. “Then when we learned it was going statewide for the first time, we saw it as a natural fit and the perfect project for Tri-State and all the electric co-ops to support.”

The three-day, single-elimination tournament was held and recorded at Rocky Mountain PBS’ studios on the campus of Colorado State University-Pueblo. It featured the top 16 schools that had advanced from the original 70 qualifying schools.

Each 30-minute match consisted of three rounds, with subject matter including, but not limited to, English, history, geography, science, math and current events. Former TV meteorologist Craig Eliot played the role of host and quizmaster. Click here for a sneak preview. Continue reading ‘Students “Matchwits” at annual high school academic competition’

New online game aims to teach kids fun and energizing way to Power Up

Power-Up-promoTri-State, together with the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, has launched an exciting new online game to help teach young students in classrooms across the U.S. about the value of electricity and how it’s used to power different regions of the country.

The idea for the “Power Up” energy game was born more than a year ago at the national “Ag in the Classroom” conference in Loveland, Colo. It was there that Gigi Dennis, Tri-State’s senior manager of external affairs, learned about the educational outreach activities of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture and began exploring partnership opportunities. “It made sense to partner with Farm Bureau because their philosophy is in sync with the co-op philosophy,” said Dennis.

The foundation’s “My American Farm” website was created to teach agricultural literacy to consumers and the public through interactive computer games. Specifically targeting kids in grades 3-5, students learn where food comes from and how those products get from the farm to their dinner plate. The online, interactive aspect of the educational project lets students learn about agriculture while having fun.

In addition to family fun activities, links and educator resources, a number of different games on the site reinforce core American educational curriculum standards of science, math, geography and language arts. Continue reading ‘New online game aims to teach kids fun and energizing way to Power Up’

Tri-State joins co-ops nationwide in celebrating National Cooperative Month

co-op-month-logoEvery October, cooperatives are recognized for the qualities that make the business model unique, including local democratic control, commitment to the communities they serve, special benefits and services, and the return of capital credits back to members.

Tri-State and its 44 member systems are a proud part of America’s cooperative network, which, in its entirety, employs more than 850,000 people.

“Cooperatives — and especially electric cooperatives — are special,” said Jo Ann Emerson, CEO of NRECA. “We have an obligation to provide reliable, affordable and safe electricity, but we take that a step further. We also have a responsibility to support our members, enrich schools and enhance our communities.”

Tri-State is one of the largest electric co-ops in a nationwide network of more than 900 electric cooperatives and public power districts serving 42 million people in 47 states. The association and its members have a rich history and were built on a strong foundation of the seven cooperative principles. Continue reading ‘Tri-State joins co-ops nationwide in celebrating National Cooperative Month’

Tri-State supports New Mexico’s “Careers in Energy Week”

GIELogoThe New Mexico Center for Energy Workforce Development is helping celebrate “Careers in Energy Week” across the state Oct. 14-20. Tri-State is a member of the nonprofit consortium of electric, natural gas and nuclear utilities and Escalante Station’s Sherry Garcia serves on the Careers in Energy Week committee.

A number of activities are planned throughout the week to promote energy jobs in New Mexico, including an essay contest and tour of Escalante Station by students from nearby Thoreau High School.

Colowyo employees operate “Heavy Metal Monsters” on Weather Channel

A Weather Channel cameraman captures some of the action at Colowyo Mine as a 240-ton haul truck lumbers by.

A Weather Channel cameraman captures some of the action at Colowyo Mine as a 240-ton haul truck lumbers by.

The long-awaited airing of a workplace reality TV program called “Heavy Metal Monsters,” featuring employees working at Colowyo Mine in western Colorado, is scheduled to air on the Weather Channel on Monday evening, Oct. 7.

The 30-minute show will run at 7 p.m. on many of the region’s cable television and satellite systems. However, check your local listings, as the exact time of airing by some providers may vary between 6 and 8 p.m.

The Weather Channel program’s three-member production crew visited Tri-State’s subsidiary-owned Colowyo Mine last March to film a segment on the men and woman who operate some of the world’s largest industrial machines — in this case, to extract and ship 2.3 million tons of coal a year to Tri-State’s 1,311-megawatt Craig Station, located about 27 miles northeast of the massive mine operation.

“The crew, which has filmed large equipment all over the world, was very impressed with the equipment we have here at our site,” recalls Mike Gush, Colowyo’s senior health and safety specialist. Gush and Stephen Laramore, the mine’s safety and health manager, coordinated the film crew’s visit at the mine and made sure they stayed out of harm’s way during their four days of filming. Continue reading ‘Colowyo employees operate “Heavy Metal Monsters” on Weather Channel’

Teens learn about Tri-State at Colorado Construction Career Days

The 11th annual, two-day Colorado Construction Career Days event, which attracts more than 1,600 high school students and educators from across the state, kicked off yesterday (Sept. 24) at the Adams County Fairgrounds north of Denver with more than 60 companies, including Tri-State, represented.

Tri-State’s Wayne Martin (left) and Clint White explain a few of the math formulas involved in a lineman’s job.

Tri-State’s Wayne Martin (left) and Clint White explain a few of the math formulas involved in a lineman’s job.

This youth career expo is an industry-sponsored event for high school students in grades 10 through 12, designed to expose them to various industrial sectors including building, highway, engineering, energy and architecture.

Many of the companies offer demonstrations and activities that allow students to participate in various exercises, helping to engage and educate them about some of the career opportunities that may be available to them in the future.

Small groups of students are escorted to various company sites by construction industry volunteers who serve as a source of information about the businesses, as well as guides to the activities that are being offered. Continue reading ‘Teens learn about Tri-State at Colorado Construction Career Days’

2013 Pedal the Plains tours Colorado co-op country

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (behind podium) and Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia (far left), joined by some Colorado FFA kids, kick off day one of the 2013 Pedal the Plains bicycle tour.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (behind podium) and Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia (far left), joined by some Colorado FFA kids, kick off day one of the 2013 Pedal the Plains bicycle tour.

Approximately 750 cyclists participated in the second annual Pedal the Plains Bicycle Tour this past weekend (Sept. 20-22), covering 174 miles across the sprawling plains of southeast Colorado.

The state’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives were well represented for the second year in a row, with a 12-member team saddling up for the three-day tour that kicked off and ended in the farming and ranching community of Eads – which is served by Tri-State member co-op Southeast Colorado Power Association (La Junta, Colo.).

“We were excited to have it – it brought a lot of people into our town, said Marilyn Baxter, mayor of Eads. “We hope they like what they saw.”

The route also included overnight stops in the towns of Lamar and La Junta, where the electric co-ops hosted one of many interactive and informational booths, coordinated by the Colorado Rural Electric Association. Riders were treated to live music in the three host communities, along with beer gardens, local food fare, games and contests. Continue reading ’2013 Pedal the Plains tours Colorado co-op country’

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.”

Tri-State linked to grad student’s EV speed record

cycleAlthough Tri-State did not fund Eva Håkansson’s (shown with her husband) project to build an electric motorcycle that recently set a new world speed record of 212 miles per hour on the Bonneville Salt Flats, she acknowledged both Tri-State and the Western Area Power Administration’s support of her studies by displaying their logos on her unique custom-built EV.

According to Art Mander, Tri-State’s delivery resource manager, Hakansson is a graduate student at the University of Denver, where she served on a project team that Tri-State is helping to fund with research dollars aimed at advanced carbon core conductor technologies to improve transmission efficiency.

To learn more about Eva’s need for speed you can click here to view her blog site.

Junior Livestock Sale celebrates 50 years of supporting youth in agriculture

Kyndal Reitzenstein (far right) proudly shows off her grand champion steer, Otto, at the Colorado State Fair’s 2013 Junior Livestock Sale in Pueblo.

Kyndal Reitzenstein (far right) proudly shows off her grand champion steer, Otto, at the Colorado State Fair’s 2013 Junior Livestock Sale in Pueblo.

For the eighth year in a row, Tri-State, the Colorado Rural Electric Association and the rest of Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives were well represented at the Colorado State Fair (Pueblo, Colo.) in support of the 4-H and Future Farmers of America kids participating in the annual Junior Livestock Sale (Aug. 27).

Kyndal Reitzenstein, a 19-year-old from Kersey in Weld County – whose family’s ranch is powered by Tri-State member co-op Poudre Valley REA – walked away as the event’s big winner after her grand champion steer sold for a record amount of $57,000. “This is my last year competing,” Reitzenstein said with a bit of nostalgia, prior to watching her 1,335-pound bovine go to the high bidder, Pueblo businessman Sam Brown.

“His name is Otto [the steer], but there should be an ‘L’ in front of his name because he hit the jackpot,” quipped Nick Bonham, who covered the event for the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper.

Tri-State communications department personnel worked with their member co-op colleagues on pre-event sponsorship planning activities, while a number of executive staff members – including Ken Anderson, Ken Reif and Barbara Walz – participated with the Denver Rustlers buying group, a team of Colorado civic/business leaders and politicians led by Denver Post publisher Dean Singleton.

Prospective sellers (left) meet and greet prospective buyers (right) outside the arena before the bidding begins.

Prospective sellers (left) meet and greet prospective buyers (right) outside the arena before the bidding begins.

“Colorado’s 4-H and FFA youth work tirelessly throughout the year to earn a spot in this show,” said State Fair general manager Chris Wiseman. “We would like to thank our generous sponsors and bidders for their participation in the sale. They are instrumental in making it a success.” Continue reading ‘Junior Livestock Sale celebrates 50 years of supporting youth in agriculture’

Mountain View Electric recovering from Black Forest Fire

Mountain View Electric line crews cut away dead tree limbs threatening service on their distribution lines.

Mountain View Electric line crews cut away dead tree limbs threatening service on their distribution lines.

More than two months after the devastating Black Forest Fire was finally extinguished — leaving two people dead, approximately 500 homes destroyed and yet-to-be tallied millions of dollars in property losses — Tri-State member system Mountain View Electric Association (Limon and Falcon, Colo.) is making steady progress in rebuilding more than 40 miles of line and other power supply infrastructure.

The blaze, which was reported on June 10, raged for 10 days before being declared fully contained on June 20.

In addition to the damage to Mountain View’s distribution system, Tri-State east-side maintenance crews were called to the scene to assist the co-op with restoration efforts as well as replace burned down structures on two of the G&T’s transmission lines serving the area. All of Tri-State’s system service in the area was restored by the evening of June 14.

As for Mountain View’s system, about 50 percent of the 41 miles of damaged line have been rebuilt, according to Claud Hugley, the co-op’s operations manager. However, Hugley also pointed out that, “It could be six months or more before the system impacted by the fire is completely reconstructed, depending on a number of factors — including the severity of this winter and how soon our consumers are able to secure the necessary permits for demolition and reconstruction of a new residence.” Continue reading ‘Mountain View Electric recovering from Black Forest Fire’

Wyoming State Fair draws big numbers

Wyoming-Fair-2013Wyoming’s 101st annual state fair was another big success this year, drawing visitors and competitors from across the Cowboy State (and beyond) last week. Tri-State and Wyoming’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives were proud sponsors of the eight-day celebration which featured concerts, livestock shows, a parade, PRCA rodeos and much more.

Instead of trying to convey the event in words, we thought we’d share the experience in a series of photographs taken by communications coordinator Mary Peck during her recent visit to Douglas, Wyo. View her photo gallery here.

Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives tee off for a good cause

Golf-Classic-logoThe second annual Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Golf Classic was held Aug. 19 at Perry Park Country Club outside Larkspur, Colo. This year’s tournament drew twice the number of participants compared to the inaugural event in 2012, with 140 golfers teeing off on a brilliantly clear summer morning.

Once again the event was organized and hosted by Tri-State, member co-op Mountain View Electric Association (Limon, Colo.) and the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. And once again, $5,000 was raised and presented to Feeding Colorado, an association of five Feeding America food banks throughout Colorado, including Food Bank of the Rockies.

“We couldn’t accomplish our mission without the generous support from our partners like the state’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives,” said Feeding Colorado manager of corporate relations Buck Boze, who was on hand to accept the check on behalf of the organization. “The $5,000 raised here today will provide 20,000 meals that we’ll distribute to people in need across the state through our five regional food banks,” he explained.

Touchstone Energy mascot CFL Charlie made an appearance at the golf tournament — taking on all comers in a putting contest.

Touchstone Energy mascot CFL Charlie made an appearance at the golf tournament — taking on all comers in a putting contest.

The full field of golfers included participants from Tri-State, several of its member systems and the Colorado Rural Electric Association – along with representatives from numerous related organizations throughout the area. Continue reading ‘Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives tee off for a good cause’

Electric co-ops urge common sense on climate regulations

Action-coop_03The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) released a video yesterday (Aug. 12) that gives a voice to the 900-plus electric cooperatives and their 42 million consumer members that oppose the President Obama’s climate proposal using the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide during a fragile economic recovery.

“Rural communities have a great story to tell about how they are innovating, using new technologies and leading in energy efficiency. It’s our responsibility to communicate the importance of affordable energy to the communities cooperatives serve and tell their story on how we are pursuing our energy future,” said Jo Ann Emerson, CEO of NRECA (pictured above, middle).

Action-coop_02“The next few months are a critical time to unite behind that message and let policymakers know where we stand on the issues, as well as how important affordable energy is to us and the American economy,” Emerson said.

The two-minute video is the first action in a coordinated campaign that underscores the dramatic impact new regulations could have on much of the country’s electric generation and calls on consumers to join the united campaign.

NRECA is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.

Tri-State continues tradition of supporting Food Bank of the Rockies

Thousands of rural community members are served through FBR’s Mobile Pantry program every week.

Thousands of rural community members are served through FBR’s Mobile Pantry program every week.

Tri-State is again supporting Food Bank of the Rockies through the continuation of a sponsorship of the agency’s eastern Colorado Mobile Pantry program.

With weekly food distribution sites in the eastern Colorado towns of Brush, Burlington, Haxtun, Holyoke and Sterling, the agency is successfully reaching individuals and families living in part of the heart of Tri-State’s service area.

“This is part of our community outreach, to be supportive of our distribution co-ops and their constituencies,” said Gigi Dennis, Tri-State’s senior manager of external affairs. “Some people in that area have to choose between food, medicine and electricity. This is designed to take some of the pressure off, by providing food to those in need.”

State-of-the-art refrigerated trucks haul nutritious food from Denver to distribution sites in eastern Colorado.

State-of-the-art refrigerated trucks haul nutritious food from Denver to distribution sites in eastern Colorado.

FBR’s Mobile Pantry program is helping to keep pace with the increased demand for food assistance in rural communities where partner agencies may not exist but the need is abundant. Last year the program distributed a total of 1.7 million meals to 25,359 people at 11 rural sites throughout eastern Colorado. FBR, whose operating overhead is just 4 percent, can convert every dollar it receives into four meals.

“Food Bank of the Rockies is grateful for Tri-State’s generous support of our rural mobile pantry program,” said Kim Ruotsala, chief development officer of FBR. “The partnership has a measurable impact as we work to strengthen and empower our communities.”

FBRlogoCommunity centers and churches post information about when and where local weekly distributions will take place. Families are able to fill a 40 pound box with canned soup and tuna, crackers, milk, yogurt, fresh fruits and vegetables, pasta, bread, frozen meat and more.

Later this month, Tri-State and the rest of Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are sponsoring their second annual charity golf tournament in Larkspur, Colo., with part of the proceeds also being provided to a number of food banks throughout rural Colorado.

Tri-State, co-ops gearing up to support the 2013 Wyoming State Fair

The 2013 Wyoming State Fair runs Aug. 10-17 in Douglas.

The 2013 Wyoming State Fair runs Aug. 10-17 in Douglas.

Tri-State and Wyoming’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are proud to continue a tradition of supporting the Wyoming State Fair, which kicks off its eight-day run Aug. 10 in Douglas.

The state’s electric co-ops are sponsoring the very popular Mutton Bustin’ event and a feature brand new to the fair this year – a dedicated Kids’ Zone, which will offer age-appropriate entertainment and activities and a place for parents to relax.

Tri-State and Wyoming’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are again sponsoring the very popular Mutton Bustin’ events at this year’s Wyoming State Fair.

Tri-State and Wyoming’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives are again sponsoring the very popular Mutton Bustin’ events at this year’s Wyoming State Fair.

Focusing on the youth of the communities we serve is a good fit for Wyoming’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and the 101-year-old Wyoming State Fair.

Throughout its evolution, the fair has continued to uphold its original purpose – to serve as an agriculturally focused event with an emphasis on education and youth activities. It remains the largest youth competition in the state.

“Buckles, Boots and Blue Ribbons” is the theme for the 2013 edition of the fair. The eight-day celebration will feature a parade through downtown Douglas, concerts by country music stars Hunter Hayes and Brantley Gilbert, PRCA rodeos, a carnival, exhibits, livestock shows and competitions, the Wyoming state fiddle championship and much more.

Cooperative youth camp offers fun, leadership and co-op education

Nicholas Meyer from Kansas, explains the parts of his group’s electric grid project at the Youth Leadership Camp held last week.

Nicholas Meyer from Kansas, explains the parts of his group’s electric grid project at the Youth Leadership Camp held last week.

Nearly 100 high school-aged teens from Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma were lucky enough to enjoy most of last week away from the sweltering summer heat, among the whispering pines at Glen Eden Resort where they attended the 2013 Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp located north of Steamboat Springs, Colo.

The teenagers’ five-day enrollment and expenses at the camp are covered, thanks to the sponsorship and support of their local electric co-ops (including many Tri-State members), the Colorado Rural Electric Association and the Colorado Electric Educational Institute.

The annual co-ed camp event mixes the typical summertime fun and recreation, such as a swimming, hiking and whitewater rafting, with leadership, learning and team building activities. Continue reading ‘Cooperative youth camp offers fun, leadership and co-op education’

Industry and government officials attend HQ open house

Mike Houglum, dispatch manager, provided an explanation of Tri-State’s transmission system to visitors attending an open house held at HQ on July 15.

Mike Houglum, dispatch manager, provided an explanation of Tri-State’s transmission system to visitors attending an open house held at HQ on July 15.

Approximately 30 guests mainly representing business and commerce interests, government and various agricultural industries attended a Tri-State headquarters open house last week, organized and hosted by the association’s government relations staff.

The three-and-a-half-hour agenda included a luncheon, a tour of the operations center dispatch area and the energy markets department, along with several presentations provided by Tri-State staff.

In addition to providing visitors with an overview of the association and showcasing some of Tri-State’s daily operations in the dispatch center and energy markets department, the program provided an opportunity for Tri-State and Colorado Rural Electric Association’s staff to thank these organizations for their support to Tri-State and CREA in their opposition to Colo. Senate Bill 252.

“While our joint effort ultimately did not succeed in that case, I believe our unified, coordinated campaign made a major impression on the governor,” said Kent Singer, CREA executive director and one of the program’s keynote speakers. “It’s our hope that we can continue to work together in the future when important issues present themselves that would impact our rural constituents across Colorado.” Continue reading ‘Industry and government officials attend HQ open house’

Co-op-served school goes “green” for some big savings

Approximately 300 students from the Big Sandy School District — which is electrically served by Tri-State member co-op Mountain View Electric Association (Limon, Colo.) — will soon be hitting the books in a new pre-school through grade 12 building that features some of the latest engineering and architectural innovations, including a geothermal heat pump system that both the co-op and Tri-State will reward with some attractive monetary incentives through its Energy Efficiency Products program.

This unique building, now in its final construction phases in Simla, Colo., incorporates three separate academic wings — one each for the elementary grades, junior high and senior high — with a fourth wing housing athletics, the wood shop and the cafeteria.

This unique building, now in its final construction phases in Simla, Colo., incorporates three separate academic wings — one each for the elementary grades, junior high and senior high — with a fourth wing housing athletics, the wood shop and the cafeteria.

This unique building, now in its final construction phases in Simla, Colo., incorporates three separate academic wings — one each for the elementary grades, junior high and senior high — with a fourth wing housing athletics, the wood shop and the cafeteria.

It is regarded as a “high performance design” by the architects. The school’s floor plan has classrooms oriented along an east-west axis to capture maximum natural daylight and the building also incorporates good acoustical isolation between teaching spaces for a quieter learning environment.

“At the current electric rates that we are paying Mountain View Electric, we have roughly calculated a 10-year payback on the school’s heat pump system,” said Steve Wilson, Big Sandy School District superintendent.

This interior photo shows the nearly completed library at Big Sandy School in Simla, Colo.

This interior photo shows the nearly completed library at Big Sandy School in Simla, Colo.

“We have not completed all of the calculations for the qualifying rebates from Mountain View and Tri-State, but we are expecting that the heat pump system, LED lights and electric motors should add up to at least a $40,000 check to the school district,” said Ray Singmaster, rebate and electrician services supervisor for Mountain View Electric.

The new 83,000 square-foot Big Sandy School is scheduled for completion by mid-July — in time for the start of the new school year in August.

This project marks at least the fourth major geothermal installation in an academic building across Mountain View’s service territory. In 2009, Palmer Ridge High School, in Monument, received Energy Efficiency Products rebate checks from Mountain View and Tri-State totaling nearly $200,000.

Tri-State hosts teachers conference on energy

Tri-State’s Gigi Dennis kicks off the second annual teachers NEED energy conference held this week at the association’s Westminster headquarters.

Tri-State’s Gigi Dennis kicks off the second annual teachers NEED energy conference held this week at the association’s Westminster headquarters.

In an effort to encourage school teachers to make energy a larger part of their students’ curriculum, Tri-State hosted a three-day program on the electric utility industry this week (June 25-27) for approximately 35 teachers working predominantly at schools within the association’s member service territory.

Several of the educators attending this second annual NEED (National Energy Education Development) summer conference were also from schools in New Mexico that are electrically served by El Paso Electric Co., which also helped to fund this year’s event.

Tri-State works with NEED to conduct the program and its member co-ops to encourage teachers from schools in their service territories to attend this program, which is funded by Tri-State and its participating member systems.

The format of the conference is intended to be both fun and educational with lots of lab experiments and problem-solving energy exercises.

“By educating our teachers on energy we hope this program will ultimately prompt more kids to learn about where their electricity comes from,” said Gigi Dennis, senior manager of public affairs and organizer of this event. “We are pleased to see that attendance is up from last year’s conference,” she added. Continue reading ‘Tri-State hosts teachers conference on energy’

Tri-State supports the “Smithsonian of the Rockies”

Those who pass through these doors are still learning: the museum is housed in the former Leadville High School building.

Those who pass through these doors are still learning: the museum is housed in the former Leadville High School building.

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum is celebrating its silver anniversary this year, thanks in part to the support of organizations like Tri-State and Western Fuels-Colorado.

Appropriately located in Leadville, Colo., the hall of fame and museum is the only mining museum in the U.S. to hold a federal charter. It was approved by President Reagan on November 14, 1988.

“It’s a heck of a status symbol,” said Carl Miller, former director of the museum. “It says that this institution is the voice of the American mining industry.”

Dozens of educational displays comprise the museum which is housed in the 70,000-square-foot former Leadville High School. The building, constructed in 1899, includes a convention center and several meeting rooms.

“This museum is a treasure for our Centennial State and for our nation,” said Gigi Dennis, Tri-State’s senior manager of external affairs. Continue reading ‘Tri-State supports the “Smithsonian of the Rockies”’

Student engineers join Tri-State’s transmission team for the summer

From left: Craig Bear, New Mexico State University; Steve Wisniewski, University of Colorado-Denver; Bryant Hicks, New Mexico State University; Stefan Johnson, University of Colorado-Boulder; Ian Kirschner, University of Nebraska.

From left: Craig Bear, New Mexico State University; Steve Wisniewski, University of Colorado-Denver; Bryant Hicks, New Mexico State University; Stefan Johnson, University of Colorado-Boulder; Ian Kirschner, University of Nebraska.

Tri-State has welcomed four electrical engineers and one civil engineer into its fold as part of a summer transmission engineering program for college students.

Joel Bladow and Jeff Selman of the transmission group came up with the idea earlier this spring and were supported by Tri-State’s recruiters and numerous staff members involved in the selection process.

More than 40 candidates applied from several schools in the region, including the University of Colorado, University of Wyoming, Colorado School of Mines, University of Nebraska and New Mexico State University.

“This is a way to get some good starting players that we really like,” said Selman, manager of the summer engineering project. “There’s a mutual desire by both parties for possible hiring after graduation.” Continue reading ‘Student engineers join Tri-State’s transmission team for the summer’

Electric co-ops sponsor relief fund for victims of Black Forest fire

More than 500 homes have been destroyed in Colorado’s all-time most devastating wildfire.

More than 500 homes have been destroyed in Colorado’s all-time most devastating wildfire.

More than 500 member-consumers of Tri-State member system Mountain View Electric Association had their homes and businesses destroyed over the past two weeks in the Black Forest fire northeast of Colorado Springs.

Electric co-ops and their members throughout Colorado and across the country are being invited to help these victims recover by making a donation to the Black Forest Fire Electric Co-op Relief Fund. The Colorado Rural Electric Association has established this relief fund to raise money that will be donated to charitable organizations assisting those within the fire area.

The Black Forest fire is now the most destructive fire in Colorado history. Starting Tuesday, June 11, it burned more than 15,000 acres, claimed two lives, destroyed 509 homes (at last count) and disrupted thousands of peoples’ lives, all within Mountain View Electric’s service territory — whose crews have been working diligently to restore power to those who still have homes.

Tax-deductible donations may be sent to the Black Forest Fire Electric Co-op Relief Fund by mailing a check or money order made payable to CEEI/Black Forest Fire Fund to:

Colorado Rural Electric Association/Black Forest Fire Fund

5400 Washington Street

Denver, CO 80216

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Electric co-op youth descend on Washington, D.C.

Youth-Tour-2013_01Every June since the late 1950s, the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour has brought high school students to Washington, D.C. This year’s annual event began last week at United Power (Brighton, Colo.) where students climbed poles, watched a safety demo, rode in a bucket truck and more. The group also toured Colorado’s Capitol before flying to Washington.

“When the students stopped by United Power, they learned about electric cooperatives, the electric utility industry and generally how electricity is generated and transmitted,” said Tri-State strategic communications specialist Jonathan Thornton. “This allows them to intelligently talk about these topics with the elected officials they’ll visit in Washington and gives them a better understanding of our complex business.”

Students apply and are selected for the program by their local electric cooperative, each of which has a different Youth Tour selection process.

Youth-Tour-2013_09Nearly 50,000 students from rural areas and small towns across America have participated in the program over the years, allowing them to experience our nation’s democratic principles up close and helping to build the next generation of leaders in our communities. Some Youth Tour alumni have gone on to design airplanes, lead companies and serve in the highest ranks of government, including the U.S. Senate.

Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives to Matchwits with high schoolers

More than 70 high schools from all across Colorado are expected to participate in this year’s “Matchwits” competition — won last year by the team from The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs.

More than 70 high schools from all across Colorado are expected to participate in this year’s “Matchwits” competition — won last year by the team from The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs.

School may be nearly out for summer, but that’s not stopping Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives from supporting youth and education across the state. The coalition of 23 co-ops — which includes Tri-State and the Colorado Rural Electric Association – recently signed up as supporting sponsors of Rocky Mountain PBS’s “Matchwits” program, a long-running high school academic competition that, for the first time, is being taken to a statewide level.

“Matchwits” is a weekly, quiz show format half-hour program that has been airing on the Pueblo/Colorado Springs PBS station for nearly 29 years.

“For our 2013-2014 season, the competition is being opened up to all high schools throughout Colorado,” said Kelsey Prescott, development account executive for RMPBS. “In doing so, we’re also going to be airing the program on all five PBS affiliate stations in the state – Denver, Pueblo/Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, Durango and Steamboat Springs – effectively reaching 99 percent of the television viewing households across Colorado,” she explained. Continue reading ‘Colorado’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives to Matchwits with high schoolers’

Tri-State member San Miguel Power Assn. creates TV ad to honor its linemen

SMPA-LinemenSan Miguel Power Association (Nucla, Colo.) has produced a new television commercial in appreciation of the electric co-op’s linemen (and woman).

According to SMPA communications executive Becky Mashburn, who wrote the commercial, the idea was an easy choice, because it focuses on the co-op’s core business, provides a contrast to energy-themed commercials and demonstrates the importance of what linemen do for the public and the co-op’s employees.

The commercial features six of SMPA’s linemen and the co-op’s staff engineer Bill Riley as the announcer. “It’s been a hit, especially in the industry and with our employees,” Mashburn said. “The linemen have appreciated it.”

SMPA has produced and aired commercials on various television stations in Colorado’s Telluride/Mountain Village region for the past few years. The “SMPA Lineman Tribute” spot is currently airing on Mountain Village Cable and Telluride TV. It’s also posted on the co-op’s Facebook page.

Expanded renewable energy bill lands on governor’s desk

SB252Despite the efforts of a broad coalition of rural and urban partners, along with supportive editorials by five of the state’s largest newspapers, legislation known as Senate Bill 252, aimed at doubling Colorado’s current 10 percent renewable energy standard on rural electric cooperatives, has cleared both the House and Senate and is now in Gov. Hickenlooper’s hands. He has 30 days in which to sign it into law, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

The legislation would require the state’s electric co-ops with more than 100,000 meters (which includes only Intermountain Rural Electric Association, a non-Tri-State member) and wholesale power cooperatives, namely Tri-State, to supply at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. Originally, the bill called for an even more onerous 25 percent renewable requirement, but the House reduced that mandate last week to 20 percent by 2020. Continue reading ‘Expanded renewable energy bill lands on governor’s desk’

Expanded renewable energy bill speeding through Colorado legislature

SB-252-KEA-Ad_City-WaysThe proposal to increase the amount of renewable energy that Tri-State must deliver to its Colorado member co-ops has received preliminary approval in the Colorado House of Representatives – and could be up for its final vote this week.

As introduced on April 3, Senate Bill 252 — sponsored by state Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver — would require the state’s electric co-ops with more than 100,000 meters, and utilities that generate and supply electricity on behalf of member co-ops (like Tri-State), to get 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. The bill was approved by the Senate on April 15.

But the House last week cut the mandate from 25 percent to 20 percent by 2020. It passed the House on second reading late Friday and was scheduled for a third vote in that chamber yesterday.

Even with the amendment, Tri-State, its member co-ops and the Colorado Rural Electric Association continue to oppose the legislation – which would cost the G&T and its member systems billions of dollars to comply with the higher requirement.

“It’s still unreasonable and unachievable and would do considerable economic harm to rural Colorado,” said Dave Lock, Tri-State’s senior manager of government relations. Continue reading ‘Expanded renewable energy bill speeding through Colorado legislature’