Tag Archive for 'Poudre Valley REA'

PVREA to add 8 megawatts of solar capacity

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

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

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

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

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

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

PVREA shines through two disasters in two years

crossing-the-creekAlthough the line crews of electric co-ops are well trained and always ready to quickly respond in any emergency to restore power and do whatever is necessary keep their consumers safe, Tri-State member Poudre Valley REA’s (Fort Collins, Colo.) employees’ skills as first responders have really been put to the test over the past couple of years.  A little over a year after the floods and two years after the High Park Fire, the memories of the hard work put into restoring power during the disasters will never be forgotten by the co-op and by the communities that they serve. [Read more]

Power visits the Colorado Energy Expo


Power uses the hand-crank display in Tri-State’s booth at the Colorado Energy Expo

Power uses the hand-crank display in Tri-State’s booth at the Colorado Energy Expo

Power arrived at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver on Friday morning, June 27 as part of the Colorado Energy Expo.  Tri-State G&T exhibited with a 20’ x 20’ booth where Power made appearances throughout the day. The event was free and open to those in the electric industry as well as to the public. Hundreds of consultants, engineers and friends of the energy industry visited Tri-State’s  booth to learn more about Tri-State’s services, pose for pictures with Power and experience the exhibits about electricity.

Within Tri-State’s booth, Poudre Valley REA demonstrated electric safety on a table-top display, creating an arc of electricity, which drew the attention of passers-by.  Tri-State’s self-generation-hand crank display provided a “hands-on” exhibit that demonstrated the amount of power it takes to light a CFL bulb versus a standard incandescent bulb. Continue reading ‘Power visits the Colorado Energy Expo’

Co-ops report most flood repairs completed

It has been more than four months since Colorado’s Front Range, mountain areas and the eastern plains were inundated by flood waters that claimed 10 lives, destroyed nearly 1,900 homes and caused havoc to the state’s infrastructure, including washed out roads, bridges and power supply equipment operated by at least three of Tri-State’s member systems.

The northern Colorado town of Kersey was awash after the South Platte River left its banks.

The northern Colorado town of Kersey was awash after the South Platte River left its banks.

According to member services personnel at United Power (Brighton, Colo.), Poudre Valley REA  (Fort Collins, Colo.) and Morgan County REA (Fort Morgan, Colo.), most of the restoration activities on their systems have been completed with some permanent fixes awaiting road repairs and other infrastructure projects.

By far, the hardest hit member system was United Power, which had more than 4,000 member consumers without power during the height of the storm, which began on Sept. 9, 2013 and lasted for nearly a week.  “Last fall we still had portions of our electric system configured to provide back-up power while road repairs were completed,” said Laurel Eller, communications specialist at United Power.  “Recently, we were able to complete equipment repairs and return the system configuration to its normal status, however, we still have some underground cable to repair in the Del Camino area,” she noted. Continue reading ‘Co-ops report most flood repairs completed’

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’

PVREA’s new geothermal system earns a hefty Tri-State refund

A sign marks the new geothermal loop field, made up of 84 wells, to the north of PVREA’s headquarters.

A sign marks the new geothermal loop field, made up of 84 wells, to the north of PVREA’s headquarters.

Poudre Valley REA’s headquarters building was constructed in 1996.

Poudre Valley REA’s headquarters building was constructed in 1996.

Last year, at Tri-State system member Poudre Valley REA (Ft. Collins, Co.), necessity became the mother of invention.  It became clear that the aging air to air heat pumps which typically last for 16 years or so at the co-op’s headquarters was reaching the end of its mechanical life.

It was obvious that updating this aging system was imminent, and the board of directors agreed to a solution that would not only improve the comfort of the facility, but also be more in line with the co-op’s overall commitment to energy efficiency.

“One of the board’s goals was to be an example and to provide leadership for our members,” said Gary Myers, energy use specialist at PVREA.  Myers plans to continue sharing the story of this successful implementation with members and other energy professionals in the coming months.

Also called ground-source heat pumps, geothermal systems rely on stored energy from the earth for heating and cooling.  “The earth typically maintains a constant temperature of approximately 52 degrees,” Myers said.  “This consistency provides both cooling during summer months and heat during winter.”

Continue reading ‘PVREA’s new geothermal system earns a hefty Tri-State refund’

PVREA, Otero County recovering from summer wildfires

Fueled by unusually high June winds, Little Bear fire spread quickly on Forest Service land in Otero County’s northern district.

With a miraculously low death toll of one, nearly 500 homes destroyed and untold millions of dollars in property damages, two of Tri-State’s member systems are now recovering from devastating June wildfires that ravaged mountain homes and businesses in northern Colorado and southeastern New Mexico.

There have been many wildfires in the region this summer, including Colorado’s most destructive fire disaster, the Waldo Canyon blaze, which killed two people and incinerated 346 homes in late June and early July near Colorado Springs.

But, when it comes to disasters that have had the greatest impact on Tri-State’s membership, it is certain that the co-op employees and consumers of Poudre Valley REA (Fort Collins, Colo.) and Otero County Electric (Cloudcroft, N.M.) will never forget the summer of 2012, when the High Park and Little Bear fires ravaged hundreds of homes, threatened lives and and left a lasting black scar across thousands of acres timber.

The eNewsbreaker staff recently toured the fire-stricken areas and interviewed Otero County and Poudre Valley REA employees to obtain a first-hand look at the impacts and recovery efforts for an upcoming article in Tri-State’s Network magazine. Continue reading ‘PVREA, Otero County recovering from summer wildfires’

PVREA dedicates community solar site

Some of the 21 owners of PVREA’s new community solar farm assemble in front of their panels.

Earlier this week (Aug. 28), the staff and board members of Tri-State member co-op Poudre Valley REA (Fort Collins, Colo.), held a dedication ceremony for the cooperative’s first community solar farm that is now in operation at their headquarters complex.Keynote speaker Tracee Bently of the Colorado Energy Office, praised PVREA for its innovation in bringing renewable energy to more of its member-consumers through this community solar project. “At the Colorado Energy Office we recognize the need for a diverse portfolio of power supply to the state’s electric consumers and we are proud to work with Poudre Valley, a leader in rolling out renewable technologies that provide clean, affordable power to its membership,” she said.

PVREA CEO Brad Gaskill said this project demonstrates the co-op’s commitment to offering its members affordable opportunities to invest in renewable energy.

“This community solar farm offers our members who are interested in investing in renewable power with an affordable alternative to more costly home systems,” said Brad Gaskill, CEO of Poudre Valley REA.

Poudre Valley’s new solar array began producing power for its members on Aug. 3. The site has a maximum capacity output of 116 kilowatts derived from a total of 494 photovoltaic solar panels.

The new array is fully subscribed by a total of 21 PVREA member-consumers, who paid $618 per panel after factoring in rebates and tax credits. The estimated combined annual savings for solar farm investors is $17,000 per year.

Tri-State’s member systems have taken a leadership role in developing community solar projects. A total of six member co-ops are either planning or have built community solar projects in their service territories.

The largest of those systems is a 1-megawatt PV solar array now under construction in San Miguel Power’s (Nucla, Colo.) service territory. It is currently the nation’s largest planned community solar project and is scheduled for completion later this fall.

Poudre Valley REA creates loan fund for community projects

Tri-State member co-op Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association has secured funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to fund local projects that will benefit communities in northern Colorado. The initial project that will benefit from the fund is the Platte Valley Fire Protection District through the Platte Valley Fire District Foundation.

The Foundation was formed to support the Fire District and to provide much needed additional equipment. The total cost of the project is $1.3 million.

The PVREA loan fund was created in conjunction with the USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program (REDLG), which provides zero-interest loans and/or grants to cooperative-owned utilities that, in turn, provide funding to local agencies for projects in rural areas that create news jobs and maintain existing jobs.

“This fund is the result of a strong commitment by the PVREA board of directors to support projects that benefit our members and local communities,” said Poudre Valley REA CEO Brad Gaskill.

The current project is funded by a $740,000 zero-interest loan and a $300,000 grant from the USDA REDLG program to Poudre Valley REA. The PVREA board initiated the fund with $60,000 earlier this year.

Once the loan and grant from USDA was secured, $1,040,000 was provided to the Platte Valley Fire District Foundation in the form of a zero-interest loan that will be paid back over 10 years. As the loan is repaid, funds will then become available for other community projects. Platte Valley Fire District Foundation also contributed $260,000 to the project.

Member co-ops ramping up local solar projects

Several new photovoltaic solar projects are either under construction or in the final planning stages within Tri-State’s member co-op service territory this summer and fall. The latest of those renewable projects is a 2-megawatt solar array that is expected to begin construction during the next month at a site approximately two miles east of the Interstate 25/Highway 7 intersection in Adams County, Colo.

According to Jerry Marizza, United Power’s new energy program coordinator, the solar facility is slated for completion by mid-October 2012. The Brighton, Colo.-based co-op will contract with the owner and operator of the solar plant to receive the generation output from the site, adding to the co-op’s renewable resource portfolio.

San Miguel Power recently held a groundbreaking for what will be the nation’s largest community solar project. It will be constructed in the Paradox Valley.

One way that at least six of Tri-State’s members have found to directly involve their members in renewable power is through the sponsorship of community-owned solar projects in which the members are able to purchase one or more solar panels to help offset their electric bills. This option allows members who are not in a financial position to install a $30,000 solar system at their home or business are able to make a small investment in a solar project that will pay monthly credits on their electric bill.

Investing in a community solar project also eliminates any consumer maintenance costs since the upkeep of these systems are shouldered by the plant operators.

To date, the largest planned community solar project in the United States will be a 1-megawatt solar site now under construction in San Miguel Power’s (Nucla, Colo.) service area in southwest Colorado. The co-op, in partnership with the Clean Energy Collective, held a groundbreaking ceremony on July 31 for the San Miguel Power Community Solar Array, which is being built on a 7-acre site in the Paradox Valley, about 15 miles west of Naturita.

When completed later this fall, the array will consist of 4,680 panels, which translates to enough capacity to power about 180 homes. The 235-watt panels will be sold to San Miguel members for about $700 each.

Poudre Valley REA is currently constructing a community solar project at their headquarters in Fort Collins.

Two other member-sponsored community solar projects in the works are Poudre Valley REA’s 150-kilowatt Community Solar Farm at the co-op’s headquarters in Fort Collins, Colo., and a small solar garden that Kit Carson Electric (Taos, N.M.) is sponsoring at a school in Taos. A dedication ceremony is slated for the Poudre Valley array on August 28 and the New Mexico solar garden is scheduled for completion in early October.

Morgan County REA latest co-op to be hit by wildfires

Morgan County REA (Fort Morgan, Colo.) is at least the third Tri-State member system to be impacted by wildfires that are burning across the region.  A grass fire was reportedly ignited by a passing vehicle on Monday (June 25) near the eastern Colorado town of Last Chance and quickly grew to a massive 45,000 acres incinerating several homes and other structures on the lines of Morgan County REA.  The co-op’s line crews were on scene quickly after the fire was brought under control on Tuesday.

Morgan County REA line crews were still assessing damage from the fire at the time of this posting, but preliminary estimates projected between 50 and 100 power poles have been destroyed by the blaze and just over 200 co-op consumers saw their electric service interrupted. At the time of this update, all but 44 of those services had been restored. The majority of the damage to the co-op’s system was along a 13-mile stretch along Highway 71, north and south of Last Chance, and a 6-mile stretch west of Last Chance along Highway 36.

Matthew Huerta, Tri-State’s substation technician based at the Brush field facility, was on site Monday afternoon and reported that the town of Last Chance is “half gone” and that there was heavy damage to both Morgan County’s and the Western Area Power Administration’s line structures in the area. It was later determined that Tri-State also sustained damage to its Anton-Last Chance 115-kV line in the area.

Geoff Baumgartner at Morgan County said that crews from Y-W Electric, Highline Electric and the City of Fort Morgan have been assisting Morgan County crews with repairs and power restoration in the fire-impacted areas.

Elsewhere in the Tri-State member service territory the High Park Fire, west of Fort Collins, Colo., continues to chew through the mountain territory of Poudre Valley REA (Fort Collins, Colo.).  In the co-op’s latest update staff members reported that Poudre Valley crews have made significant progress in rebuilding power lines in the area affected by the fire.  Service to individual meters has not been restored at the request of the fire command authorities. Power was restored to the communications arrays on Buckhorn Mountain on Sunday.  So far, the High Park Fire has claimed one life, consumed more than 87,000 acres and destroyed at least 257 homes.

In New Mexico, The Little Bear Fire, which has been burning since June 4 in the service area of member Otero County Electric (Cloudcroft, N.M.), has been declared 90 percent contained and the 400 crew members assigned to the fire are largely engaged in mop up and rehabilitation operations.  That blaze, which is burning north of the town of Ruidoso, is estimated to encompass more than 44,000 acres and has claimed 242 homes and 12 commercial structures and outbuildings.

Fires continue to rage in member service areas

As of Monday, June 18, two massive wildfires – the High Park Fire, west of Fort Collins, Colo., and the Little Bear Fire near Ruidoso, N.M. – continued to burn amid record heat and tinder dry drought conditions. The fires have claimed one life and have destroyed hundreds of homes owned by consumers of Tri-State member systems Poudre Valley REA (Fort Collins, Colo.) and Otero County Electric, based in Cloudcroft, N.M.

The High Park Fire viewed from Horsetooth Reservoir in northern Colorado.

The High Park Fire, which was ignited by lightning 11 days ago, has caused one death, consumed more than 58,000 acres and destroyed 182 homes on the lines of Poudre Valley REA. The blaze was 45 percent contained as of Monday, June 18.

“Right now we have about 800 to a thousand residential services disconnected,” said Myles Jensen, member services manager for Poudre Valley. “Line crews were on call over the weekend to respond to requests by fire management authorities to turn off power and restore power to areas as needed to protect fire fighters,” he said. “One area of particular concern right now is Glacier View on the north side of the fire. There are quite a few homes that could be in jeopardy if the fire expands there,” said Jensen.

Firefighters are finally able to get a handle on the Little Bear Fire, which has been burning north of Ruidoso, N.M., since June 4.

In New Mexico, the Little Bear Fire has burned about 40,000 acres north of Ruidoso, all of which is electrically served by Otero County Electric. Preliminary estimates from the local media have reported that 242 homes and businesses have been destroyed by this blaze. Fortunately, this fire, which was also started by a lightning strike on June 4, is now 75 percent contained.

“Although the fire literally came right up to the back door of our co-op field office in Alto, we only lost about 30 poles,” said Clint Gardner, Otero’s manager of member services. “Many of our members were not so lucky – this fire has been devastating to our communities,” he said.

The Little Bear Fire has impacted more than 30 percent of Otero County’s service territory, mainly in the communities of Alto, Loma Grande and south of Capitan. “The next big concern that we are going to have once the fire is out will be the potential for flooding once the rain starts,” added Gardner.

Colo., N.M. fires impacting member co-ops

The New Mexico fire near Ruidoso came very close to Otero County Electric's field office in Alto. Fortunately, the structure was spared from the flames.

The High Park blaze west of Fort Collins, Colo., and another massive wildfire burning north of the mountain town of Ruidoso in southern New Mexico are within the service territories of two Tri-State member systems and have already done extensive damage to property and co-op service infrastructure, according to Myles Jensen at Poudre Valley REA (Fort Collins) and Terry Buttram with Otero County Electric (Cloudcroft, N.M.). How much damage has occurred was unclear at the time of this writing due to the danger of sending line crews into the affected fire zones.

As of Monday, June 11, there were approximately 900 consumers on Poudre Valley REA’s lines that were without power. Areas that are affected include all of Rist Canyon, the lower Poudre Canyon and the upper Buckhorn Canyon west of Fort Collins. Jensen said no estimates were available on timing for when and where power will be restored. So far, several mountain homes have been reported destroyed by the fire and scores of structures have been burned by the 43,000-acre blaze.

In New Mexico, Buttram said the electric co-op didn’t have estimates on the extent of the damage or number of consumers without power. He did verify that several residences had been destroyed and that at least one residential subdivision had been severely impacted by the 15,000-acre fire burning about five miles north of Ruidoso.  View more photos of the Little Bear Fire near Ruidoso.


New hydro plant to serve Poudre Valley Rural Electric Assn

This brand new hydro plant at Carter Lake, near Berthoud, Colo., features two 1,300-kilowatt units that will supply the needs of about 1,000 homes on Poudre Valley's system.

Officials of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District marked their 75th anniversary yesterday (May 31) with the dedication of its first hydropower plant at Carter Lake, west of Berthoud, Colo. The 2.6-megawatt facility, named the Robert V. Trout Hydropower Plant after longtime water legal counsel for the district, will sell all of its output to Tri-State member co-op Poudre Valley REA (Fort Collins, Colo.) under a long-term power purchase agreement.

Tri-State also provided support for the Carter Lake project under board policies 115 and 117 that promote local member participation in such local renewable ventures. The dedication ceremony featured tours of the new plant and several speakers including Anne Castle, assistant secretary for water and science for the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Tri-State’s Rob Wolaver, senior manager of energy resources, also commented on the project, noting that Tri-State is an avid supporter of these small renewable projects that provide full-time, year-round generation for its member co-ops.

The new hydro plant began producing power on May 12. The generating facility is projected to generate an output of 7 to 10 million kilowatt-hours of energy a year, translating to enough power for about 1,000 homes on Poudre Valley’s lines.

Members’ renewable projects to add a combined 4 megawatts

During the next several months, two renewable projects in Colorado and New Mexico are scheduled to begin producing more than four megawatts of capacity combined for Tri-State members Poudre Valley REA (Fort Collins, Colo.) and Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (Taos, N.M.).

A new 2.6-megawatt hydro plant at Carter Lake will begin producing power this summer for Poudre Valley REA.

The largest of the two facilities is the Carter Lake Hydroelectric Project, now under construction adjacent to the 112,000-acre-foot lake of the same name in northern Colorado.

Slated for commercial operation this summer, the new hydro plant will feature two horizontal Francis turbines capable of generating a maximum output of 2,600 kilowatts (2.6 megawatts) and is expected to generate approximately 7,000 megawatt-hours annually.

The Carter Lake hydro plant will be owned and operated by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. Poudre Valley REA will purchase the output of the plant under a power purchase agreement with the water district and Tri-State is providing support and financial incentives of both member projects under its board policies 115 and 117. Continue reading ‘Members’ renewable projects to add a combined 4 megawatts’

Transmission transfer assessment underway with Poudre Valley REA

Last week personnel from Tri-State’s GIS, engineering and maintenance groups were on site near Lyons, Colo., to assess the first of many member-owned transmission lines that will be transferred to the G&T’s ownership under the low-side member asset transfer project launched last year.

A Tri-State team inspects a Poudre Valley REA H-frame structure along a transmission right-of-way near Lyons, Colo.

The first step in this extensive undertaking – that will ultimately result in Tri-State acquiring up to 260 transformers and 600 miles of transmission lines from the membership – kicked off with an assessment of Poudre Valley’s 115-kV Lyons Tap to Dow Flats line in Boulder County.  John Olson, senior engineer and member of the low-side transition team, said they were on site to make a detailed survey and assessment of the line to determine its overall condition and to compile data on any structures, hardware and other equipment that may require repair or replacement when the assets are transferred to Tri-State.

GIS personnel were on site to assist in imputing details of the line into the Tri-State GIS data base and Poudre Valley personnel were also there to provide local knowledge about the line, such as access points to the line right-of-ways.

To accomplish this assessment, Tri-State personnel will patrol all of the line right-of-ways, examining each structure for condition and damage. That’s no small task, considering that this Poudre Valley acquisition alone is expected to involve the transfer of more than 70 miles of transmission lines and transformers and other high-voltage equipment inside 25 Poudre Valley-owned substations, according to Olson.

More than 70 miles of Poudre Valley REA’s transmission line is slated for acquisition by Tri-State.

A total of 32 member systems have expressed interest in transferring their 100-kV and higher voltage assets to Tri-State. To date two members –Mountain Parks Electric and Gunnison County Electric – have completed asset transfers to Tri-State.

The driving force behind the three-year, low-side asset transfer project is to aggregate the increasingly complex federal regulatory oversight requirements for this equipment from the members to Tri-State and to provide consistent system-wide delivery point practices across Tri-State’s four-state power delivery system.