Archive for the 'Public Outreach' Category

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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

Include your name, address, email and phone number. Please note if you need a receipt for your records. Credit cards cannot be accepted. Colorado Electric Educational Institute (CEEI) is CREA’s 501.c.3 organization.

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’

Fight continues against unreasonable renewable mandate legislation

As a renewable energy mandate bill continues to make its way through the Colorado legislature, Tri-State, its member co-ops, the Colorado Rural Electric Association and several business organizations, agriculture industries, labor unions and rural communities are ramping up their opposition efforts to call out an unfair and misguided legislative process that would have disastrous consequences for the state’s rural economy.

Numerous electric cooperative board members and staff were on hand during the Senate committee’s hearing on the renewable energy bill.

Numerous electric cooperative board members and staff were on hand during the Senate committee’s hearing on the renewable energy bill.

Senate Bill 252, which would require Tri-State to derive 25 percent of its generation mix from renewable resources within the next six and a half years, was introduced on April 3 – well into the legislature’s 120-day session – without any opportunity for consultation or input from the G&T, its member systems or electric co-op member-consumers. It’s estimated that compliance would cost Tri-State up to $4 billion over the next 20 years.

“To be clear, Tri-State and our member systems support the use of renewable energy,” said Tri-State executive vice president and general manager Ken Anderson, “but we oppose unrealistic mandates and we object to being blindsided by a bill so late in the legislative session. At no time prior to the introduction of this bill did its sponsors or its proponents contact us or our co-ops to discuss the bill or its impacts.”

The bill was heard in the Senate State Affairs Committee just four days after it was introduced. After a seven hour hearing – during which the members of the majority party failed to ask a single question of the dozens of electric co-op member-owners in attendance – the bill was passed out of committee on a party line 3-2 margin. The measure was then passed by the full Senate, winning approval by a single vote. Continue reading ‘Fight continues against unreasonable renewable mandate legislation’

Tri-State and its member co-ops oppose misguided legislation

On April 3, a bill was introduced in the Colorado Senate aimed at Tri-State and its member co-ops which would require Tri-State to generate 25 percent of the power it sells to its Colorado members from renewable resources by 2020.

CO_State_capitolThe measure would essentially replace the current renewable energy obligation of 10 percent by 2020, which was passed in the Colorado Legislature with support by Tri-State in 2007 – and which the association is on track to meet.

If enacted as written, the proposed legislation could potentially cost Tri-State and its members up to $4 billion over the next 20 years, which is one of several reasons Tri-State and the Colorado Rural Electric Association have engaged resources to oppose it.

“Fundamentally, the manner in which this bill was hastily written and introduced represents a flawed process,” said Tri-State executive vice president and general manager Ken Anderson. “Despite our willingness to do so, we, nor any other rural Colorado constituents who will be deeply impacted by this mandate, were not provided the opportunity to provide any input. It is irresponsible – not to mention probably unachievable – and could cost Colorado electric cooperatives and their member-owners billions of dollars.”

After a Senate committee’s initial hearing on April 8, which involved seven hours of testimony, the bill passed by a 3-2 vote along party lines.

“We are receiving significant support from both rural and urban interests, from the state chamber of commerce to agricultural producers to our labor unions.  Together we are sending a strong message to legislators and the governor to do the right thing by rural Colorado,” said Dave Lock, Tri-State’s senior manager of government relations.

Part of that pressure includes Tri-State’s communications and public affairs team working, with strong support from its members and partner organizations, to help spread the message in an effort to raise public awareness and action. As a result of those activities, The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Pueblo Chieftain have all quickly weighed in with strongly worded editorials opposing the bill.

The bill is currently on the Senate floor for debate. If it passes the Senate, it would transfer to the Colorado House of Representatives, where it again would receive a committee hearing, then be debated on the House floor. If the bill gets that far and passes the House, it would go to Gov. Hickenlooper for his signature; or, he could veto it. The process is expected to take at least two weeks, perhaps longer. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 9.

The Rural Economic Action Alliance (REA-A), which is supported by Tri-State and CREA, is currently running Keep Electricity Affordable radio commercials and online ads across Colorado, along with activating its 20,000 plus grassroots supporters. Electric cooperative advocates are encouraged to support the Keep Electricity Affordable initiative as well as using CREA’s Take Action Network.

Long-awaited completion of Nucla-Sunshine transmission line is celebrated

Kevin Ritter, San Miguel Power Association general manager, spoke to the collaborative effort of all parties involved in bringing the Nucla-Sunshine line to fruition.

Kevin Ritter, San Miguel Power Association general manager, spoke to the collaborative effort of all parties involved in bringing the Nucla-Sunshine line to fruition.

A transmission line that takes three years to construct and nearly five times that long to conceive, debate, plan and engineer certainly deserves to be celebrated when it is finally electrified into service. Such was the occasion for a March 26 reception in Mountain Village, Colo., recognizing the completion this past November of the 51-mile, 115-kilovolt Nucla-Sunshine project.

The critical line provides an improved level of service and reliability to the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village and other nearby communities in the southwestern Colorado service territory of Tri-State member co-op San Miguel Power Association.

“I remember hearing about a new power line when my son was born – and that was 15 years ago,” said an only half-joking San Miguel county commissioner Joan May, who joined other local elected officials and representatives from SMPA and Tri-State at the afternoon event at Mountain Village Town Hall.

Telluride mayor Stu Fraser noted the urgency for a more reliable redundant power source that grew out of a 2004 avalanche that wiped out the area’s primary 115-kv line. “We said at the time that we can’t let this happen again,” Fraser said, who estimated that the outage caused by that avalanche cost his resort town approximately $250,000 in lost revenue.

The 51-mile, 115-kilovolt Nucla-Sunshine transmission line was built over the past three years and energized this past November.

The 51-mile, 115-kilovolt Nucla-Sunshine transmission line was built over the past three years and energized this past November.

Tri-State vice president/transmission Joel Bladow spoke to the “difficult technical challenges” involved with planning and constructing the line, while SMPA general manager Kevin Ritter discussed the critical collaboration that took place among the utilities, local government jurisdictions and various stakeholders. Other speakers at the reception included Mountain Village mayor Dan Jansen and San Miguel board president Rube Felicelli.

The line is unique to Tri-State’s transmission system in that approximately 10 miles of the power cable was placed underground to satisfy landowners’ concerns. Those concerns and other siting issues delayed the construction of the project for more than a decade.

ACCCE announces new internship program

ACCCE_01Beginning this summer, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) will hire interns for an eight-week program at its Washington, D.C. headquarters. ACCCE interns will work one-on-one with an ACCCE mentor in areas such as communications, membership and state affairs.

As a result, ACCCE members will benefit through the enrichment and development of the next generation of clean coal supporters and grassroots activists. Students interested in becoming an intern at ACCCE must follow the application process and submit the application and supporting documents no later than April 1, 2013.

High West Energy wins decades-long battle

High West’s service territory consists of 3,500 miles of line and more than 9,000 meters in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming.

High West’s service territory consists of 3,500 miles of line and more than 9,000 meters in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming.

After a 30-year struggle, Tri-State member system High West Energy (Pine Bluffs, Wyo.) finally achieved a huge victory last week in reaching a franchise agreement with the city of Cheyenne to provide electricity to some consumers who reside within city limits.The Wyoming Public Service Commission approved a settlement between the electric cooperative and Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power that clarifies the locations where each utility will provide service.

“We won — and could not have done it without Tri-State and Basin Electric’s moral and financial support, not to mention the expertise and advice along the way,” said Brian Heithoff, general manager of High West Energy.

Under the agreement, Cheyenne Light gained some areas of rural eastern Laramie County, but High West will continue to serve its current members, even if they are eventually annexed to the city of Cheyenne.

Approval of the agreement came after a full-day hearing and received overwhelming support from the Cheyenne City Council. It means that the utilities will never challenge their service areas.

“This will allow for the leaders of both utilities to better plan, knowing that our locations are permanent,” Heithoff said.

This marks the first time the city of Cheyenne has had a franchise agreement with a company other than Cheyenne Light.

Kids are big winners thanks to Tri-State’s TMS facility

Mike Marshall, Tri-State telecom tech, says it takes about three years to grow his hair long enough to donate to Wigs for Kids. He’s been donating to the charity for 20 years.

Mike Marshall, Tri-State telecom tech, says it takes about three years to grow his hair long enough to donate to Wigs for Kids. He’s been donating to the charity for 20 years.

For 20 years, Mike Marshall, telecom tech based at Tri-State’s transmission maintenance south (TMS) facility in Rio Rancho, N.M., has been growing his hair and donating it to “Wigs for Kids” – a nonprofit organization that has been serving children suffering from hair loss since 1981.

This year he decided to take his charitable efforts a step further and also raise cash for the organization by auctioning off the privilege of cutting his hair and beard at work. “I figured there are a lot of my co-workers who would pay good money to see me bald,” Marshall laughed.

That was just the beginning. When Marlène Márquez, transmission reliability support manager, heard what was going on, she raised the stakes by involving TMS superintendent Tommy Chavez – convincing him to agree to head and face shaving if her team raised $500.

“When we organized the support staff at Rio Rancho into our own team, the competition really took off and it became a real frenzy,” said Márquez.

Mike Montano, TMS manager, offered to allow his hair to be removed if the total went above $1500 — a move that created another influx of cash. When that level was reached, TMS superintendents Lance Mullins and Kurt Loenser also agreed to part with their hair.

Losing their hair for a great cause (from left) are: Kurt Loenser, Lance Mullins, Mike Marshall, Mike Montano and Tommy Chavez.

Losing their hair for a great cause (from left) are: Kurt Loenser, Lance Mullins, Mike Marshall, Mike Montano and Tommy Chavez.

Needless to say, the competition between TMS groups paid off significantly for a great cause. “It was kind of exciting, all the groups really got on board and we raised a lot of money for the kids,” Márquez said.

The final amount of money donated by Tri-State to Wigs for Kids was $1,745.50 – almost entirely from a facility of about 50 people.

“This created an opportunity for Tri-State employees to step up and do something very positive for kids in need,” Chavez said. “This speaks very well of the generosity of TMS in general, as well as our friends in the other regions who participated.”

Learn more about the custom-made hair replacements created by Wigs for Kids and the unique requirements for children at wigsforkids.com

Tri-State, Touchstone Energy backs Wyo.’s Salute to Agriculture

InfoWyo_logoTri-State, the Wyoming Rural Electric Association and the rest of Wyoming’s Touchstone Energy cooperatives are once again serving as proud sponsors of the Salute to Agriculture campaign, a 10-part radio news series presented every spring.

This year’s program runs March 18-22 and will feature agricultural leaders discussing changes, challenges and the future of the industry – and why it’s important to all citizens of Wyoming. The segments will be posted on Wyoming’s Cowboy State News Network website and aired on numerous radio stations across the state.

Touchstone Energy celebrating 15th anniversary in 2013

It was 15 years ago next month that the national brand for America’s electric cooperatives was officially launched — and Touchstone Energy Cooperatives have come a long way in that relatively short amount of time.

The hugely-popular Touchstone Energy balloon has made appearances all across the country, including this stop in Loveland, Colo., in May of 2011.

The hugely-popular Touchstone Energy balloon has made appearances all across the country, including this stop in Loveland, Colo., in May of 2011.

“It truly has been remarkable,” said Jim Bausell, chief operating officer. “Really, 15 years in the brand-building world is basically still in the infancy stage. Yet, when you look at how we’ve grown in that time, it’s almost mind boggling.”

In that short amount of time, the brand has grown to include 741 member co-ops in 46 states — including Tri-State, 43 of its member systems and the statewide associations in Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

“While our membership has experienced steady growth of the years, so have the number of programs, products and services that we have developed for use by the co-ops to educate and communicate with their member-owners — as well as assist them in using electricity more wisely to save them money,” Bausell said.

Newly-appointed NRECA board president Curtis Nolan, who represents an Arizona electric co-op and its G&T, recently voiced his support of the national branding program. “I urge all co-ops to take advantage of this occasion and focus on what the brand has to offer in telling your story and helping your consumer-members learn about energy efficiency and keeping electric bills affordable,” Nolan said.

The Touchstone Energy draft horse hitch has been a part of the National Western Stock Show since the brand’s inception in 1998.

The Touchstone Energy draft horse hitch has been a part of the National Western Stock Show since the brand’s inception in 1998.

Tri-State serves as the regional representative for 43 of its member systems that are Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. As such, it coordinates regional advertising and sponsorship efforts, communications initiatives and educational opportunities — helping the co-ops to integrate and implement the brand’s core values and characteristics into their day-to-day activities.

Among the most successful regional partnerships that the G&T has coordinated over the years are the sponsorship of the Touchstone Energy draft horse hitch at the annual National Western Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver, as well as the involvement in the annual Country Cares radiothon on KYGO radio that supports the work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

A number of events are planned across the country throughout 2013 to mark and celebrate the 15th anniversary milestone. You can read more about the birth of the brand in the spring issue of Tri-State’s quarterly magazine, Network, which will be published in early April.

 

Tri-State’s careers page presents a fresh face to job seekers

If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to take a few minutes and check out the new careers pageCareers_WebPage on Tri-State’s external website.

Tri-State rotation training program employee Rachel Jaakkola took the initiative to redesign the careers site after attending a Mountain States Employers Council class on the topic of company branding while working in the human resources department.

“I have an interest in recruiting and I enjoyed learning about what attracts candidates to a company,” Jaakkola said. “I was excited to help communicate what a great company Tri-State is to potential future employees.”

The new careers section of Tri-State’s website gives potential employees a sense of work life at the association. Continue reading ‘Tri-State’s careers page presents a fresh face to job seekers’

Once again, Craig Station employees lead Moffat County United Way giving

Craig-Station-United-WayThanks in large part to Tri-State’s Craig Station, Trapper Mining, Colowyo Mine and Twentymile Coal Co. and their employees, Moffat County is in the top 10 percent of United Way donations per capita in the entire nation.

The companies were among those honored Feb. 26 during the United Way’s annual awards luncheon in Craig. Tri-State was recognized for the sixth consecutive year as the largest single donor during the 2012 fundraising cycle, contributing $87,334 to the local United Way chapter.

Craig Station maintenance planner/scheduler Steve Martin serves as president of the Moffat County United Way board. “Craig Station has increased our donations every year for the past five years,” he said. “The younger employees have really stepped up and it’s a big source of pride for us.”

Funds raised for United Way are distributed to local agencies such as Boys and Girls Club of Craig and the Moffat County Cancer Society to fund programs that better the health, education and quality of living for community members.

A total of $460,000 was raised by the community in 2012. Tri-State policy allows employees’ pre-tax donations to United Way to be matched dollar for dollar.

LED lights brighten classroom thanks to SMPA

installing-lights-in-classroomTri-State member co-op San Miguel Power Association (Nucla, Colo.) recently gave a $1,950 grant to the Positive Energy Committee at Ridgway Elementary School to buy LED lights for a classroom demonstration project to begin later this month. That committee is made up of eight fourth- and fifth-graders and their teacher.

For two months, students will compare electricity use in three classrooms: one with fluorescent tube lights, one with LED tube lights and the other powered by solar panels. Meters will measure the amount of electricity being used, the cost of power and carbon emissions. “Ultimately, we would like to be able to demonstrate good, better and best in terms of energy efficiency,” said Krista Javoronok, the committee’s teacher-adviser.

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’

Latest Network magazine now available on Tri-State’s web site

Network-Winter-2013_coverTri-State’s soon-to-be published quarterly magazine, Network, can be accessed now on Tri-State’s Web site by clicking here.

The winter 2013 issue features an article on Tri-State’s newest renewable energy resource, the Colorado Highlands Wind project. Read about the history, fast-track construction and high-tech turbines that have added 67 megawatts of wind power to the association’s generation portfolio.

Tri-State’s new demand response and energy shaping products offerings are the subject of an informative story about innovative programs that are designed to help member systems advance new technologies, support the wise use of energy and manage costs.

In his quarterly column, general manager Ken Anderson reviews 2012 – Tri-State’s 60th year – with a look back at operations, new generation resources, transmission, regulatory issues and more. The G.M.’s message can also be viewed online by following this link.

Elsewhere in the new issue, read about how Tri-State member co-op White River Electric helped the U.S. Capitol Building sparkle over the holidays with its “gift to the nation.”

Tri-State’s environmental team gives time, talent to Habitat for Humanity

Members of Tri-State’s environmental department helped complete the building of a Habitat for Humanity home on Jan. 26.

Members of Tri-State’s environmental department helped complete the building of a Habitat for Humanity home on Jan. 26.

Members of Tri-State’s environmental team dedicated their Saturday last weekend (Jan. 26) to helping build homes through Habitat for Humanity. Chantell Johnson, senior environmental planner, scheduled the service day last October, in response to the department’s desire to work together as a group on a community service project. “I think people like to give back throughout the year,” Johnson said, “especially by doing things that are physically helpful.”

Eight members of the environmental department and their family members, as well as Agnes Meder from the accounting department and Lauretta Zielke from resource dispatch and marketing, gathered at two home sites near 10th Ave. and Sheridan Blvd. in Denver for a day of volunteering.

The group worked with other volunteers on the homes, completing finish work that included painting, installing baseboard and trim, caulking, finishing door jams and more. “It was a lot of fun for a good cause,” said Kate Willeford, environmental planner. “It was a real atmosphere of teamwork – we were all working toward one goal.”

Those who joined together for the day of service agreed that it helped build comradery within the group and provided a valuable opportunity to give back. Continue reading ‘Tri-State’s environmental team gives time, talent to Habitat for Humanity’

Tri-State hosts business leadership tour at HQ

Michael Houglum (left), dispatch manager, provided a brief overview of the G&T’s system operations to the Metro North Chamber visitors.

Michael Houglum (left), dispatch manager, provided a brief overview of the G&T’s system operations to the Metro North Chamber visitors.

With Tri-State being a longstanding and active member of the Metro North Chamber of Commerce, which spans 13 cities and four counties across Colorado’s northern Front Range, the association’s communications and public affairs staff members were pleased to have the opportunity to host approximately 40 guests from the chamber’s leadership group at headquarters on Jan. 17,  for the group’s “Energy and Technology Day” program.

Presentations on Tri-State were provided to the guests by staff members and tours of the association’s dispatch center were hosted by Michael Houglum, dispatch manager, along with Bill Dombrowski, operations support supervisor.

Jason Maxley, who is a committee member of the chamber’s leadership program and an employee of Tri-State member co-op United Power (Brighton, Colo.), assisted in coordinating the day’s events, which also included a series of  presentations held by energy industry experts on “21st Century Energy” at Anythink Library in Thornton.

The Metro North Chamber Leadership Class is a program aimed at developing future leaders for their roles and responsibilities in business and the community. One day per month for 10 months, participants are exposed to a diverse range of topics as they relate to the north metro region, as well as the state and the national level.

Established in 1959, the Metro North Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization with more than 1,000 members.

Touchstone Energy hitch delivers at this year’s stock show

Tri-State senior vice president/CFO Pat Bridges rides shotgun on the Touchstone Energy hitch during a recent National Western Stock Show rodeo performance.

Tri-State senior vice president/CFO Pat Bridges rides shotgun on the Touchstone Energy hitch during a recent National Western Stock Show rodeo performance.

The National Western Stock Show and Rodeo’s popular six-horse draft hitch — presented by the region’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives — is once again successfully delivering an important message to thousands of visitors to the event: that rural electric cooperatives are owned by the members they serve and are committed to providing safe, reliable electricity at the lowest price possible.

For the 15th consecutive year, Tri-State’s communications team has coordinated the high-profile Touchstone Energy sponsorship at Denver’s National Western Stock Show. In addition to many hitch performances, Touchstone Energy messaging is being heard on radio, seen on television, print and online promotions and visible throughout the stock show grounds.

The 16-day event provides valuable opportunities to connect with the members of the communities that Tri-State and its member co-ops serve. “The stock show seems to get better every year; a one-day gate attendance record (Jan. 19) has already been set at the 2013 event,” said Tri-State communications manager Jim Van Someren. “Many people visiting and competing in the various events are served by rural electric cooperatives which makes it a natural fit and a great partnership for us.”

NWSS-logoThe National Western Stock Show is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides college and graduate level scholarships in agriculture and medicine for practice in rural areas. Its mission also is to serve producers and consumers throughout the world by being the premier stock show, rodeo, horse show and center for year-round events.

The 107th annual event runs through Jan. 27.

Tri-State to consider alternative transmission project in Southern Colorado

Change in project scope drives consideration of alternatives to proposed transmission project

SLV-H-Frame-transmissionTri-State will consider an alternative route for a transmission project to increase electric system reliability in Colorado’s San Luis Valley.

Growth in residential and agricultural loads throughout the San Luis Valley has caused the existing transmission infrastructure to reach its capacity. Tri-State studied several options to meet the electric reliability needs in the San Luis Valley, including generation and demand management options, before identifying new transmission infrastructure as the most costeffective and highest benefit to electric consumers.

Tri-State previously proposed a joint transmission project with Xcel Energy that would have extended from the San Luis Valley east to Walsenburg, Colorado and then north to the Comanche power plant. That project was approved by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in September 2011.

Xcel Energy has previously indicated to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that it is likely that it will withdraw from further participation in the joint project due to changes in its generation resources needs. Such a significant change in the scope of the previously approved project would likely require a new application to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission for an alternative project. Recognizing this possibility, Tri-State has considered various alternatives to the previously proposed project and plans to study further an alternative transmission project with a north-south alignment between Alamosa, Colorado and Tri-State’s existing transmission system in northern New Mexico. Continue reading ‘Tri-State to consider alternative transmission project in Southern Colorado’

Tri-State, Empire Electric rebate $32,000 to local schools

Tri-State, in partnership with member co-op Empire Electric Association (Cortez, Colo.), assisted in helping support an energy efficiency lighting upgrade project that will translate into big energy savings for the Montezuma-Cortez School District in southwestern Colorado.

Empire-Electric-rebate-check

From left: Alex Carter, Jamie Haukeness, Melissa Brunner, with the school district, accept a Tri-State rebate check from Bill Mollenkopf, Empire and Tri-State director and Doug Sparks, Empire’s member services manager.

Last month, the staff of Empire Electric presented a check to school officials from Tri-State in the amount of $32,439 for a series of retrofits to more energy efficient lighting in a total of seven buildings owned by the school district.

The commercial lighting rebate is part of Tri-State’s long standing Energy Efficiency Products (EEP) program that is available to all of Tri-State’s members that promote energy savings to their member-consumers through more efficient lighting, heating, cooling and production products that are a part of the EEP program.

“This project was primarily for the upgrading of the older, T-12 fluorescent lighting to the more efficient T-8 lighting fixtures, as well as some upgrades to LED lighting,” said Keith Emerson, Tri-State’s energy marketing and energy services coordinator. “The rebates, coupled with the long-term energy savings that the school district will see on its monthly bill, is another way Tri-State is bringing added value to its members through the EEP program,” added Emerson.

Annual energy savings to the school district from this lighting upgrade is estimated at $50,000 according to Doug Sparks, member services manager for Empire Electric.

The check rebate presentation by Empire personnel to the school officials was held in the Cortez Middle School gymnasium, where a large number of lighting installations took place. The gym is now equipped with about 30 large motion sensor-equipped lights that are only on when the facility is in use, thus reducing unnecessary energy consumption.

Said Sparks: “The school lighting retrofit will not only reduce the district’s use of electricity by about 130,000 kilowatt-hours a month, but it also results in brighter and more effective lighting in the school classrooms.”