Nucla Station outages yield long list of completed projects, plant upgrades

While Tri-State’s 100-megawatt Nucla Station in southwest Colorado was off line in 2013 for approximately two months during both of the lower demand ”shoulder” periods of spring and fall, plant employees ramped up to tackle a long list of maintenance and capital projects, some of which would normally be completed by outside contract firms.

During the outages, extensive repairs and upgrades were completed at the plant’s coal receiving and reclaim areas.

During the outages, extensive repairs and upgrades were completed at the plant’s coal receiving and reclaim areas.

“Having the available personnel and extra time during the outages allowed us to get a lot more done than we usually have time to complete during our typical two-week fall outage,” explained Steve Sullivan, plant manager at Nucla Station. “In view of us taking on all those projects that we don’t normally do in-house, I am particularly proud of our employees’ excellent safety record this year,” he noted.

The station conducted its spring outage from March 15 through June 7. The plant was brought off line as a coal conservation measure while permitting was completed for a new mining site at nearby New Horizon Mine.

The fall outage, which is normally two weeks in length, was extended from Sept. 13 until Nov. 14 to allow time for coal deliveries to begin from the new mining site. Continue reading ‘Nucla Station outages yield long list of completed projects, plant upgrades’

Tri-State employees brave brutal cold to keep the lights on — and win

Tri-State Pueblo-based linemen Reid Kelley (left) and Walter Greene work on a frosted structure on the Axil Basin to Hayden 138-kV line.

Tri-State Pueblo-based linemen Reid Kelley (left) and Walter Greene work on a frosted structure on the Axil Basin to Hayden 138-kV line.

The unofficial creed of the U.S. Postal Service claims that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” will prevent the mail from being delivered. Why “bitter cold” didn’t make the list is unclear, but any motto drafted for Tri-State employees who must venture outdoors to help keep the lights on would certainly describe their willingness to brave cruel winter weather.

During the recent brutal cold spell – during which temperatures around the association’s service territory plummeted to depths such as 2 below (Chama, N.M.), 12 below (Riverton, Wyo.), 16 below (Henry, Neb.) and even 36 below (Craig, Colo.) – no components of the Tri-State system experienced weather-related outages.

This was thanks, in part, to the hardy men and women who were undaunted by the conditions and continued to perform their operations and maintenance roles at the company’s generating plants, mining properties and transmission facilities.

“With more than a foot of snow and wind that helped drop the temperatures to 36 below zero in the area, our staff braved it all to keep the lights on,” noted Craig Station plant manager Rick Johnson. Continue reading ‘Tri-State employees brave brutal cold to keep the lights on — and win’

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.

Line crews to test new Linetrac dozer on difficult access jobs

As in most jobs, it is important to have the proper tools to complete the task safely and efficiently. That is the idea behind Tri-State’s plan to lease a line maintenance machine — the Linetrac 830G — that combines a digger/derrick truck and a man lift vehicle on a bulldozer platform.

Linetrac_01

The Linetrac 830G will be a welcome addition to Tri-State’s transmission maintenance equipment fleet.

This unique, multi-task machine is well suited to assist crews in tackling a list of necessary maintenance projects that are located in difficult access and environmentally sensitive areas of the service territory.

Tri-State’s board of directors authorized the one-year lease of the Linetrac during the Dec. 3-4 board meeting held in Westminster. Greg Britton, acting senior manager of transmission maintenance, provided a detailed presentation on this machine at the Dec. 3 engineering and operations board committee meeting. Continue reading ‘Line crews to test new Linetrac dozer on difficult access jobs’

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’

New Burlington building will consolidate generation and transmission personnel

Construction of a new Tri-State field facility in eastern Colorado that will consolidate the Burlington-based transmission maintenance crew members and generation personnel at Burlington Station at one site is progressing on schedule this fall.

Construction is on schedule for a spring 2014 completion of the Burlington Generation and Transmission Maintenance Facility in eastern Colorado.

Construction is on schedule for a spring 2014 completion of the Burlington Generation and Transmission Maintenance Facility in eastern Colorado.

The new building, referred to as Burlington Generation and Transmission Maintenance Facility, replaces an outmoded generation building at Burlington Station. “We moved the Burlington Station personnel to an adjacent, temporary building about a year-and-a-half ago,” said Ben Mayer, Tri-State’s general facilities manager.

The four members of the Burlington transmission maintenance crew are currently based at a leased facility in the nearby town of Burlington. Transmission maintenance personnel, along with the five generation employees at the plant site, are expected to move into their new building once it is completed in March of 2014. Continue reading ‘New Burlington building will consolidate generation and transmission personnel’

Scholarship in honor of late board member

Wes-PerrinTri-State member co-op San Miguel Power Association (Nucla, Colo.) has established new scholarship in memory of James “Wes” Perrin (left), a former SMPA and Tri-State board member who passed away from throat cancer in the spring of 2013.

“Wes was an ardent supporter of energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said SMPA general manager Kevin Ritter. “During his time on the board he helped bring to life many of the programs and services we offer today. The board chose to honor his contributions by establishing the Wes Perrin Memorial Scholarship.”

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’

Craig Station employees make the most of downtime needed for unplanned outage

Dallas Cook, welder mechanic, tackles maintenance project in the rail loadout building during the Craig 1 outage.

Dallas Cook, welder mechanic, tackles maintenance project in the rail loadout building during the Craig 1 outage.

Credit Craig Station employees who are making the most out of a difficult situation that occurred on Sept. 7 when a water induction event on the plant’s Unit 1 turbine/generator caused significant damage resulting in an unscheduled outage that will keep that unit off line until mid-December.

“We’ve moved up our planned 2014 minor spring outage to right now to take advantage of the downtime while the turbine is being repaired to complete a fairly long list of maintenance and capital projects that we had planned for next year,” explained Rick Johnson, Craig Station’s plant manager.

“With the repairs that we are doing on the turbine, coupled with our rescheduled routine outage activities, we should be well positioned to reliably operate Unit 1 until its next scheduled major outage in 2016,” Johnson said.

Another potential silver lining to the unfortunate outage event was the discovery of a ground fault during a diagnostics check on the Unit 1 generator field that, if not corrected, could have caused a costly and lengthy electrical failure on the unit, according to engineering superintendent Dana Gregory. The corrective measure – a generator field rewind – will also be accomplished within the projected turbine repair timeframe. Continue reading ‘Craig Station employees make the most of downtime needed for unplanned outage’

Wayne Child honored with NRECA award

Wayne-ChildLongtime Tri-State director Wayne Child received a 2013 Regional Service Award at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Regions 7 and 9 meeting held last week in Portland, Ore. Child, who has announced his intentions to retire from cooperative service later this year, has represented member co-op High West Energy (Pine Bluffs, Wyo.) on Tri-State’s board for the past 30 years. He also has represented Tri-State on Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s board since 1985.

“Wayne has been at the forefront of significantly growing, developing and improving the co-ops on whose boards he sits,” said NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson. “His stewardship of Tri-State, Basin Electric and High West Energy through acquisitions, mergers and many other complex business dealings underscore the value he brings to these co-ops and their consumer-members. These bold actions have allowed for risk mitigation and better positioning in regional power markets, and they are why we proudly recognize him today,” she said.

Tri-State trainers to certify 95 crane operators

Tri-State has a large fleet of smaller service crane trucks like this one, which is capable of lifting up to 5 tons of capacity.

Tri-State has a large fleet of smaller service crane trucks like this one, which is capable of lifting up to 5 tons of capacity.

Up to 95 employees working in transmission maintenance, construction services and at Tri-State’s generating facilities will receive in-house training and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-mandated certification for operating the G&T’s fleet of approximately 35 boom, crane and service vehicles in 2014, according to Clint White, Ogallala, Neb.-based transmission field training specialist and coordinator of the new training program.

“The new training plan was prompted by a combination of new certification regulations that are being phased in by OSHA over the next several years and the fact that our own trainers have found the need for additional instruction on this equipment during our annual competency exercises,” said Jim Griff, transmission maintenance manager of support services.

“In putting this program together, we worked closely with Tri-State’s safety group to make sure that all aspects of our certification program are in compliance with all of the soon-to-be enacted OSHA safety regulations,” Griff noted. However, he was also quick to point out that the first priority of the program will be “to keep our crane operators and those employees working around them safe at all times.”

The certification training will be for two separate levels of lifting capacity. The first level, which will target more than two-thirds of the trainees, will be for a lifting capacity of less than 21 tons, while the second level, designed primarily for line crews and construction services personnel, will be for operating the association’s larger equipment capable of lifting up to 75 tons of capacity. Continue reading ‘Tri-State trainers to certify 95 crane operators’

Jemez Mountains Electric trims trees and outages

Jemez-tree-trimmingSince Tri-State member system Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative (Espanola, N.M.) adopted a formal vegetation management program in 2012, it has achieved a drastic reduction in outages.

While the program is still in its infancy, the cooperative already is experiencing positive, impactful results — the number of outages has decreased nearly 26 percent. [Read more from Transmission and Distribution World]

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’

J.M. Shafer Station employees tackle one-week outage

Tri-State’s 272-megawatt J.M. Shafer Station (Fort Lupton, Colo.) has been a very busy place as plant employees tackled a one-week outage that wrapped up recently.

Plant manager Richard Rhoads explains operations at the 272-megawatt facility.

Plant manager Richard Rhoads explains operations at the 272-megawatt facility.

Maintenance activities, which are largely conducted by the plant’s 18 employees, included baroscopic inspections of turbine components, cleaning heat exchanger tubes in the main condenser, installing a variable-speed drive pump in the water quality purification plant to improve performance and efficiency, replacing air filter cartridges on the five gas turbine generators, structural maintenance on the cooling towers and a long list of other activities.

J.M. Shafer Station is classified as intermediate generation among the association’s power production fleet. Unlike Tri-State’s larger baseload units, such as Craig and Escalante stations, which are designed to operate continuously for long periods of time, this natural gas-fired plant is designed to rapidly ramp up and down to meet changing demand requirements.

J.M. Shafer Station also differs from Tri-State’s simple-cycle combustion turbine units such as Limon and Knutson stations, which are primarily used for peaking generation during high demand periods or for emergency backup generation in the event of an unplanned outage or other unusual system events. Continue reading ‘J.M. Shafer Station employees tackle one-week outage’

Presenters showcase communications tips, new technologies at annual conference

NRECA’s Megan McKoy-Noe walks conference attendees through various on-line resources available to them through the national trade association.

NRECA’s Megan McKoy-Noe walks conference attendees through various on-line resources available to them through the national trade association.

Nearly 70 employees from Tri-State’s member systems and the four statewide organizations, as well as representatives from other non-member co-ops in the region, converged on Tri-State’s Westminster headquarters this week (Oct.16-17) for the association’s annual communications and member services conference.

This year’s program — which carried a “Knowledge is Power” theme — featured a day-long series of expert presenters in the fields of communications, media relations, advertising and marketing, followed by a second day member services agenda that focused on a vendor fair and a series of presentations showcasing the latest in lighting, heating, cooling and other energy efficiency technologies that are supported by Tri-State’s Energy Efficiency Products program

This event marked the 25th year that Tri-State has hosted this well received conference, which is jointly organized by the staff of the association’s communications and member services departments.   Continue reading ‘Presenters showcase communications tips, new technologies at annual conference’

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’

Output at Colorado Highlands Wind facility increased by 36 percent

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

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

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

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

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’

Front Range co-ops mopping up after devastating floods

Many roads in United Power’s service area were heavily impacted by flood waters, including this damage to Colorado Roads 34 and 17.

Many roads in United Power’s service area were heavily impacted by flood waters, including this damage to Colorado Roads 34 and 17.

Colorado’s devastating and deadly (six fatalities reported to date) floods during the past week have presented some significant challenges to line crews of Tri-State members Poudre Valley REA (Fort Collins), United Power (Brighton) and to a lesser extent, Morgan County REA (Fort Morgan), in their efforts to repair their systems and restore electric service to their member-consumers.

The deluge of record-breaking rainfall not only damaged or destroyed many homes and businesses across Colorado’s Front Range, but it also eroded or completely washed away scores of roadways and bridges that will make access to some member service areas difficult for months to come.

“We have had co-op and contract line crews working around the clock to restore service to our most impacted areas, which includes Left Hand Canyon and residences outside of the town of Lyons,” said Jeff Wadsworth, assistant CEO for Poudre Valley REA.

“Right now we have about 330 consumers without power and we hope to restore service to many of them in the next week. Unfortunately, about 200 of those services will not be restored until roads are repaired to allow our crews access to those areas,” Wadsworth said. Continue reading ‘Front Range co-ops mopping up after devastating floods’

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 transmission system intact during historic floods

One Tri-State operated line has been de-energized, approximately 20 miles west of Kersey, Colo.

One Tri-State operated line has been de-energized, approximately 20 miles west of Kersey, Colo.

In the midst of the historic flooding events impacting thousands of residents across the state of Colorado, Tri-State’s transmission system has stayed “fairly well intact,” according to operations dispatch manager Michael Houglum.

To date, the operations department is reporting only two Tri-State-operated transmission lines that are de-energized. One is a tap off the Weld-Willoby 115-kV line approximately 20 miles west of Kersey, Colo., in Weld County and the other is a 115-kV line between Del Camino and Rinn Valley east of I-25 near Longmont.

Despite being flooded, the Sterling Substation has remained operational.

Despite being flooded, the Sterling Substation has remained operational.

Flooding has occurred at the Sterling Substation in eastern Colorado, which is owned by WAPA but serves Tri-State member systems Highline Electric Association (Holyoke, Colo.) and Morgan County REA headquartered in Fort Morgan.

“The substation is still energized and we think Western can keep it energized as long as the water does not rise anymore,” said Keith Carman, Tri-State’s senior manager of transmission system operations. Continue reading ‘Tri-State transmission system intact during historic floods’

Historic Boulder Canyon Hydro cranks megawatts for Tri-State

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

DMEA makes good on 100-year-old hydro plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.