According 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.
Renewables accounted for 60.2 percent of the new U.S. electricity generation capacity for the first three quarters of 2015, according to the “Energy Infrastructure Update” from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Office of Energy Projects.
The cumulative installed capacity of biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30 was 7,276 megawatts. It included 2,966 megawatts of new wind capacity, 40.76 percent of the total, as well as 1,137 megawatts of solar, 205 megawatts of biomass, 45 megawatts of geothermal steam and 27 megawatts of hydropower. Natural gas generation capacity grew by 2,884 megawatts in the same period.
In the month of September, wind topped the new generation capacity list with 448 megawatts, natural gas was second at 346 megawatts and solar was third with 20 megawatts of new capacity.
FERC puts renewables at 17.4 percent of total installed U.S. generating capacity, including 8.59 percent hydro, 5.91 percent wind, 1.43 percent biomass, 1.13 percent solar and 0.34 percent geothermal steam generation. No new nuclear capacity was added in 2015 and only 9 megawatts of oil and 3 megawatts of coal-fired capacity.
Critics point out the renewable numbers – especially those for solar – are underestimated because FERC does not fully account for distributed generation in its reports.
Tri-State and juwi Inc., a Colorado-based renewable energy company, have announced a 25-year power purchase agreement to supply the utility with renewable energy from the planned San Isabel Solar Project to be constructed in southern Colorado.
Tri-State will purchase the entire output of the 30-megawatt solar farm over the life of the contract. The facility is expected to begin operation in the fourth quarter of 2016. The San Isabel Solar Project will consist of more than 100,000 photovoltaic solar panels sited on 250 acres of land in Las Animas County, located approximately 20 miles north of Trinidad, Colo.
The project lies within the service territory of Tri-State member San Isabel Electric Association (Pueblo West, Colo.).
San Isabel Electric’s general manager Reg Rudolph said, “San Isabel is very excited to work with juwi and Tri-State and honored to have our area selected for this solar farm. This project shows San Isabel Electric’s and Tri-State’s commitment to renewable energy and will also be a very positive development for the southern Colorado economy.”
This is the second renewable energy purchase agreement for Tri-State this year, following the June announcement of the 76-megawatt, Twin Buttes II Wind Project south of Lamar, Colo. In 2014, 24 percent of the energy Tri-State and its member systems delivered to cooperative members was generated from renewable resources – one of the top ratios among electric utilities nationwide. In February, the U.S. Department of Energy recognized Tri-State and San Isabel Electric as the 2014 Wind Cooperatives of the Year.
The Cimarron Solar Facility in northeastern New Mexico is featured in a video created by the Mother Nature Network about the solar photovoltaic power plant. Tri-State has a 25-year power purchase agreement for the electricity generated by Cimarron.
Southern Company, the operator of the facility, participated in the video which is currently posted on the Mother Nature Network Web site. Mother Nature Network states that its goal is to provide the most accurate and up-to-date news and information available, through coverage of the broadest scope of environmental and social responsibility
issues on the internet. The story gives a general overview of Cimarron through Southern Company employee interviews, photos, video and animated graphics.
Cimarron Solar Facility generates enough power to supply about 9,000 homes and is one of the largest solar photovoltaic plants in the United States. Learn more here.
Hotchkiss K-8 teacher Anita Evans (right) brought a group of sixth graders to the Community Solar Array kick-off in Montrose that drew more than 100 people on a chilly "polar solar" morning on Feb. 11.
Nearly 200 people braved chilly temperatures at two events on February 11, designed to celebrate the completion of Community Solar Arrays installed at Delta-Montrose Electric Association‘s Montrose headquarters and at its Read facility in Delta County, Colo.
Following expected approval of a solar tariff at a rate hearing on February 22, DMEA members will be able to lease very small increments of the two 10 kilowatt (kW) arrays and receive a proportional credit on their bill.
DMEA’s renewable energy engineer Jim Heneghan noted that United Power pioneered the Community Solar Array concept and appreciated the time United Power staff worked with him to develop DMEA’s program. “Sharing good ideas to better serve our member-owners is another reason that cooperatives serve consumers’ interests better than do other electric service providers,” said Heneghan.
Heneghan said that DMEA’s innovative addition to the concept was to make available a very affordable entry point – just $10 to lease 2.67 watts of capacity – so that virtually anyone could afford to participate. A $10 lease should generate about $.50 worth of electricity annually. A larger investment will generate a larger credit over the course of the year.
DMEA began taking “reservations” for capacity on its website since it can’t actually take payments for solar leases until March 1, when the new tariff is expected to go into effect. As of February 15 DMEA had received reservations for about 10,000 watts, half of both arrays’ capacity.
The clean and plentiful sunshine of New Mexico is now producing electricity for some 9,000 homes as the Cimarron Solar Facility has begun commercial operation. At 30 megawatts, Cimarron is among the nation’s largest solar photovoltaic plants.
The facility is the first resulting from the partnership between Southern Company and Ted Turner and will supply power to the member electric cooperatives of Denver-based Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar, Inc., developed and constructed the facility and will provide operation and maintenance services under a long-term contract.
“This is a key milestone for Southern Company as we steadily incorporate more renewables into our energy portfolio,” said Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Tom Fanning. “Renewables, along with new nuclear, increased energy efficiency, 21st century coal technology and additional natural gas, all will be crucial to meeting this nation’s growing energy demand.”
“The Cimarron Solar Facility is another example of our ability to harness and utilize the abundant natural resources that are available to us in the West,” said Ken Anderson, Tri-State’s executive vice president and general manager. “Working with our partners, we have made a significant technology investment in the rural communities we serve, while further diversifying Tri-State’s renewable resource mix.”
The first of two major renewable energy projects that will produce solar and wind energy for purchase by Tri-State to deliver to its 44 member cooperatives reached a significant milestone this month, when Cimarron Solar Project’s first module of 10 megawatts officially began commercial operation.
The 250-acre plant site, which is located within the service territory of Tri-State member system Springer Electric Cooperative, is scheduled to be brought into commercial service in 10 megawatt blocks. “Right now we’re anticipating that the second 10 megawatts at Cimarron will begin commercial operation by the end of October and the final block of 10 megawatts will go into service by mid-November,” said Scott Fernau, Tri-State’s senior transmission project manager.
Officials from Tri-State, Southern Company, Turner Renewable Energy and First Solar gathered on June 9 for a groundbreaking ceremony to officially mark construction of the Cimarron Solar facility in northern New Mexico’s Colfax County.
The Cimarron Solar project will be among the nation’s largest solar photovoltaic plants when it begins commercial operation at the end of the year. The electricity generated at the facility, which will supply power equivalent to meet the needs of approximately 9,000 homes, will be delivered to electric cooperative members of Tri-State, which has a 25-year agreement to purchase the facility’s energy.
“Tri-State is committed to renewable energy in our resource planning that brings value to our member cooperatives across the four states we serve,” said Tri-State executive vice president and general manager Ken Anderson.
Tri-State member cooperative, San Miguel Power Association, Inc. has entered into an agreement with SunEdison to develop a two megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant in Norwood, Colo. The facility will be the first large scale solar power generation plant in the co-op’s service territory.
“San Miguel Power is committed to providing our members with renewable energy options,” said SMPA general manager Kevin Ritter. “This project represents our goal to provide energy that is both local and renewable.”
The solar PV plant will be located on a 40 acre plot of land in western San Miguel County, southeast of Norwood, Colo. SunEdison anticipates breaking ground on the project in September 2010 with construction completed in December. If all goes as scheduled, it should be powering SMPA homes and businesses by January 2011.
With technical assistance and support from Tri-State member co-op Mountain Parks Electric, a group of high school students and their teachers dedicated a 3-kilowatt photovoltaic tracking solar array on March 26 at Middle Park High School in Granby, Colo.
Mountain Parks Electric played an integral role in getting the project off the ground with staff assistance in grant writing and funding for the project. Former co-op employee Guy Larson, who now owns Simply Efficient Solar and Wind Co., provided assistance in helping to build and supply materials for the project.
Joe Pandy, general manager of Mountain Parks Electric, noted in his comments to the group attending the dedication that the co-op is also in the final stages of completing an agreement with a solar developer that intends to construct a 1-megawatt solar project in the co-op’s service territory to test the viability of solar at high altitude. Pandy said that if all goes as planned, the co-op will take the entire 1-megawatt output of the project under a purchase power agreement. Pandy said that he hopes to have the agreement in place before the end of the year.
Earlier this year, Tri-State and Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar, Inc. announced the development of a 30-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant in northeastern New Mexico. So it’s only appropriate that Tri-State’s Mac McLennan will speak on Oct. 27 to how utilities are driving the solar market at the Solar Power International 2009 conference in Anaheim, California.
The Cimarron I project will include 500,000 thin-film solar panels and will be among the largest solar projects in the world when it becomes operational at the end of 2010.
Utilities are expected to be the biggest driver for the U.S. solar market expansion in the next five years. Mac will participate on a panel of utility executives to discuss what’s driving the market, the business models utilities are using and the various policy options. Also joining Mac for the 11:00 a.m. session are representatives from Public Service Electric & Gas Company (Newark, N.J.), CPS Energy (San Antonio, Texas.) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (San Francisco, Calif.)
What if you wanted solar energy, but couldn’t afford the price tag for installation, or didn’t have a suitable place to install panels? Tri-State member cooperative United Power has developed a program that illustrates the cooperative model in its purest form, while simultaneously diversifying its energy load with renewable power.
The venture - Sol Partners Cooperative Solar Farm – is a first-of-its-kind cooperative solar farm supported by individual member investments. As part of United Power’s New Energy program, the solar farm is another concept of the continuing effort by the co-op to provide unique and innovative solutions for its members, allowing them to personally invest in green resources.
As part of the program, United Power member consumers may lease a 210-watt solar panel for a 25-year period, during which time they reap all the benefits of the panel in the form of solar credits on their electricity bills.
Members who participate in the Sol Partners program also have the added benefit of monitoring the production of their panel(s) in real-time through the program’s Web site.
Located just northwest of United Power’s headquarters building in Brighton, Colo., the initial Sol Partners module consists of 48 photovoltaic panels representing 10 kilowatts of power.
United Power anticipates that one 210-watt panel will produce nearly a three-percent return on its investment or approximately $32 per year in electricity credits. On average, it requires 20 panels to offset 100 percent of the electric usage for an average home.
Check out the recent Wall Street Journal article that covered the Sol Partners Cooperative Solar Farm and talked to program participants.
“The solar farm is self-sustaining, funded entirely by participants,” said Laurel Eller, United Power communications specialist. “It’s truly a cooperative.”