Tag Archive for 'Tri-State G&T'

Colowyo Mine says ‘thanks’ with checks to local communities

Meekerchk250On Nov. 10 and Nov. 23, respectively, Chris McCourt, manager of western Colorado’s Colowyo Coal Mine, presented a check for $15,000 to the Craig City Council and a donation of $5,000 to the Rio Blanco County Commissioners (pictured) in Meeker as a way of showing gratitude for the many years of support of the mine by the residents of these Western Slope communities.

“Many of our 220 employees at the mine are proud to call the towns of Meeker and Craig home and are gratified to know that their friends, neighbors and local businesses support the work that we do at the mine to responsibly help provide affordable electricity to Coloradoans,” said McCourt during his presentation to the Rio Blanco County Commissioners. “This check is our way of saying thanks for your longstanding support,” he added.

Located approximately half way between Craig (in Moffat County) and Meeker (in Rio Blanco County) on State Highway 13, Colowyo Mine currently supplies more than half of the coal needed to operate the 1,311-megawatt Craig Station near Craig. Nearly 200 Colowyo employees live in Moffat County or Rio Blanco County, and the mine has an estimated $206 million economic impact on the region. Colowyo Mine is owned and operated by Western Fuels-Colo., a wholly owned subsidiary of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.

 

BLM releases draft EA on Montrose-Nucla-Cahone Transmission Project

– Rebuild of 80-Mile Line Will Support Regional Growth, Boost Grid Reliability

– Tri-State’s Preferred Alternative Would Promote Safety, Minimize Impacts on Grouse Habitat

 telecomchopper250WESTMINSTER, Colo. – Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., a wholesale power supplier owned by 44 member electric cooperatives and public power districts, said today that it is encouraging the public to review a recently-released federal environmental analysis of the proposed Montrose-Nucla-Cahone (MNC) Transmission Upgrade Project. The company is also urging interested stakeholders to take advantage of a 30-day public comment period by expressing support for the utility’s preferred alternative for rebuilding the transmission line.

 Tri-State is proposing to rebuild and increase the capacity of the 80-mile MNC line that serves communities across southwestern Colorado, not only to replace aging infrastructure and increase grid reliability, but also to help meet new electricity demand. The existing 115 kilovolt (kV) line, in place for almost 60 years, will be replaced by a new 230 kV line and supported by a new substation and upgrades at two existing substations. The project will also replace fiber optic cable that is located on the existing line to ensure continued reliable emergency communications and broadband service for the region.

According to Tri-State Senior Vice President of Transmission Joel Bladow, the new line will benefit Tri-State’s members and the communities they serve. “Tri-State studied multiple ways to address the aging infrastructure, improve reliability and meet significant new demand in the region, and we determined that the MNC project was the best option,” said Bladow. “The upgraded line will help us meet the needs of our members for years to come.”

Because the existing line crosses lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the MNC project requires the completion of an Environmental Assessment (EA).

On Nov. 3, the BLM released a draft EA, triggering a 30-day public comment period (running through Dec. 3) that provides opportunities for stakeholders to provide feedback on the proposed alternatives and project benefits.

The draft EA identifies three construction alternatives. Under “Alternative A,” Tri-State’s preferred option, the utility would rebuild the line largely within the existing transmission line corridor – with the exception of diverting the current crossing of the Dolores River in western Dolores County to a new location approximately one mile downstream. The re-route is proposed to address safety, access and erosion concerns.

Bladow explained that the new crossing point would be more accessible, making it safer for construction and maintenance workers. “Safety is a top priority at Tri-State, but the existing span across the Dolores River creates real challenges for our maintenance staff. The northern takeoff point is located on steep, narrow, rocky terrain that is extremely difficult to access with vehicles and equipment for needed maintenance,” he said. “We are hopeful the BLM, Forest Service and other stakeholders will recognize that our proposed alternative offers a safer and more desirable location and will reduce erosion concerns by removing the current alignment from highly erosive soils.”

The other alternatives in the draft EA involve taking no action at all to improve the existing line – which would lead to further deterioration of the critical infrastructure, increase risk for electrical outages and threaten future service capacity – and diverting the existing corridor to accommodate a remnant population of Gunnison sage-grouse in the Dry Creek Basin in central San Miguel County. The BLM has proposed relocating 7.6 miles of line from its current route through the basin to a new alignment located along State Highway 141; the relocation would create an additional 1.3 miles of disturbance through Gunnison sage-grouse critical habitat.

As part of the 30-day public comment period on the draft EA, the BLM will host a public open house on Nov. 16 at Dove Creek High School in Dove Creek, Colo., from 5 to 7 p.m. Information is also available at the BLM’s project Web page: http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/district_offices/southwest/TriState230kVRebuild.html.

In addition, Tri-State has established a website at www.MNCRebuild.com to provide updated information on the project and to facilitate the submission of comments to the BLM.

 About Tri-State

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is a wholesale power supplier, operating on a not-for-profit basis, to 44 electric cooperatives and public power districts serving approximately 1.5 million consumers throughout a 200,000 square-mile service territory across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. In 2015, Tri-State was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy as Wind Cooperative of the Year.

 Media Contact:

Drew Kramer

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association

O: (303) 254-3086

C: (303) 681-1341

E: Akramer@TriStateGT.org

 

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.

NM jury affirms cooperative business model in Las Conchas fire trial

A jury in the Sandoval County District Court affirmed that Tri-State is not responsible for the actions of Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative, Inc. (JMEC), one of its 44 member distribution cooperatives, in a trial stemming from the 2011 Las Conchas Fire in New Mexico.

During the trial, Tri-State maintained it had a strong legal position in the case regarding its operations being separate from JMEC and the members of the jury agreed. The jury supported the cooperative’s arguments that JMEC and Tri-State did not operate as a joint venture or joint enterprise.

“We appreciate the jury’s recognition of the cooperative business model and that JMEC and Tri-State operate independently,” said Lee Boughey, senior manager of communications and public affairs for Tri-State.

The jury found JMEC, Tri-State and the United States Forest Service were comparatively negligent in the Las Conchas fire.

“Tri-State is disappointed with the negligence verdict, but we are nonetheless thankful to the jury for the time they have devoted to the trial,” said Boughey.

Tri-State maintains it had a strong defense and the correct legal position in the case and will consider all of its legal options.

The trial in the Sandoval County District Court began Oct. 1. The civil lawsuit was filed by a number of plaintiffs, including the Cochiti and Jemez pueblos, against JMEC and Tri-State for damages stemming from the 2011 Las Conchas Fire. The issue of the amount of damages, if any, will be determined in a later trial.

The fire started when an aspen tree, located on private land approximately 50 feet beyond the edge of JMEC’s 20-foot right-of-way for an electric distribution line, fell into JMEC’s line during a period of strong winds. The U.S. Forest Service granted the right-of-way easement to the cooperative to operate the line.

“In this case, a tree located far from the line’s right-of-way and in apparently healthy condition was blown over by a wind gust,” said Boughey. “Given the tree’s location and condition, it could not have been identified by JMEC as posing a threat to the line.”

During the trial, both JMEC and Tri-State argued that JMEC was not negligent and followed distribution cooperative industry standards and practices for line clearance and tree trimming.

The jury found JMEC 75 percent negligent, Tri-State 20 percent negligent and the US Forest Service 5 percent negligent.

“Utilities operate power lines and maintain rights-of-way to ensure safety and to protect their communities,” said Boughey. “We feel deeply for those in the Cochiti and Jemez pueblos and the other plaintiffs who were affected by the fire.”

Volunteer linemen needed in Haiti next month

Haitipic250The National Rural Electric Association’s (NRECA) International Foundation has asked for our help in putting out a call for volunteer Class A certified journeymen linemen to travel to Haiti between Sept. 5-29 to assist in bringing electricity to the rural communities of this Caribbean nation.

In 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake brought massive destruction to the island country, killing more than 230,000 people, injuring 300,000 and leaving more than a million inhabitants homeless.

If you are a qualified lineman, have availability between Sept 5-29, the NRECA International Foundation needs your help in Haiti. No previous international experience is necessary. If you are interested or would like to learn more about this program, contact Maria Wimsatt at maria.wimsatt@nreca.coop or call 703-907-5645.

The NRECA International Foundation is the charitable arm of NRECA and helps to bring electricity and its inherent benefits to the people of rural areas in developing countries.

The foundation delivers electricity to developing countries by coordinating and supporting co-op employees throughout the U.S. Co-ops participate by sending employees who volunteer their skills, donating used vehicles and electric equipment and providing funding.

 

DMEA using prepay to help past-due members

DMEA250Past-due accounts are a sore spot for utilities. But one Tri-State member co-op found an innovative way to help members pay off what they owe and get on a sound financial footing.

The offer is this: Sign up for My Choice prepaid metering and you’ll be eligible for help with past-due balances.

“If a member comes in with a disconnect notice they have the option to pay in full for their power to be turned back on, or enroll in the My Choice program,” said Becky Mashburn, marketing and public relations administrator at Delta-Montrose Electric Association (Montrose, Colo.).

“A member can roll over up to $500 of their past-due balance onto My Choice. As they put money on their account 30 percent goes to pay off the old balance and 70 percent goes to the purchase of new electricity,” Mashburn said.

Prepay, she added, “offers a permanent solution for eliminating the fees that can add up when members get behind—late fees, disconnect fees, and reconnect fees. With My Choice, there are no fees, and members are able to be take control of their energy costs, rather than falling further behind.”

Energy Outreach Colorado (EOC), a non-profit providing energy assistance to low-income residents, has committed $100,000 to help DMEA members transition to prepay.

Members signing up for My Choice are eligible to receive EOC funds to reduce past-due balances. EOC money can also cover the $140 cost of the My Choice in-home display, a device that has dual benefits.

“It is the best and easiest way for members to see what they are using and receive notifications about their account balance. This leads to energy efficiency because members become more aware of how much energy they are using daily, and make behavioral changes to lower their usage,” said Mashburn.

The co-op is also partnering with its local Health and Human Service Departments to promote My Choice as a solution for people who chronically struggle with past-due balances.

One EPA rule, a million concerns

Jo-Ann-Emerson-May-2014-1-MugshotOne million comments and counting. That’s the mark set by electric co-ops concerned that EPA’s carbon dioxide rule will increase costs and impair grid reliability. [Read more from NRECA]

 

 

San Luis Valley to roll out fiber optic network to its members

On Nov. 20, San Luis Valley REC held a launch event for its new fiber optic Internet system, which will be available to all of its members.

On Nov. 20, San Luis Valley REC held a launch event for its new fiber optic Internet system, which will be available to all of its members.

Tri-State member, San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative (Monte Vista, Colo.), recently held a launch event at its headquarters offices in Monte Vista to introduce the co-op’s new fiber optic telecommunications network that will provide high-speed Internet and telephone service to its members across the San Luis Valley.

The new system, called Ciello, an L.L.C. company that is owned and operated by the cooperative, has been stringing fiber on its distribution system for about 15 months and has completed more than half of the 300-mile network of the planned backbone telecommunications system, according to Loren Howard, manager of the southern Colorado electric co-op.

Last summer, the co-op launched a small pilot project in a residential area about three miles from the co-op offices with a goal of hooking up about a dozen homes to demonstrate the new system. During the next few months the co-op will begin offering Internet packages to residents of Creede, Colo.

Howard explained that soon, in addition to Internet service, the Ciello system will add phone service to the telecommunications packages that will be offered to its members.

 SLVREC manager, Loren Howard, says they are making excellent progress in building out their new fiber optic system across the San Luis Valley.


SLVREC manager, Loren Howard, says they are making excellent progress in building out their new fiber optic system across the San Luis Valley.

“In addition to providing our members with fast, reliable Internet service, which has not been available to many of our members in the valley, we are offering very competitive pricing that compares favorably to what people are paying in Denver and Colorado Springs,” said the co-op manager

.On Nov. 20, the co-op held a Ciello launch event that attracted nearly 100 co-op consumers to the co-op offices. Visitors at the launch party were treated to buffet luncheon, prizes and even a guest appearance from Tri-State’s Power, the symbol of the many ways that consumer-owned power brings comfort, convenience and productivity to our daily lives.

Guests at this event were also encouraged to visit with co-op staff on hand to demonstrate and explain the new fiber optic network and even take the new high-speed system on a little “test drive” on one of the co-op’s computer stations.

 

Connect with Tri-State and its affordability campaign online

With the launching of the KeepElectricityAffordable Web site, new opportunities exist to get the latest news and participate in the conversation about the importance of affordable electricity on Facebook and Twitter.  We encourage you to “like” the Keep Electricity Affordable Facebook fan page and to follow the campaign on Twitter. You can also sign up for email updates here.

A variety of social media applications also provide lots of ways to keep up with all the latest Tri-State news and happenings.  Photo galleries can be viewed on Flickr, videos can be seen on our YouTube channel and news and events are posted here on the Powering the West blog.  You can also sign up for Tri-State’s RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Free commercial lighting workshop for members

The Western Area Power Administration publishes a monthly e-newsletter called the Energy Services Bulletin.  The April issue features an upcoming free commercial lighting workshop that Tri-State and Western will host on May 25th.

Keeping in mind that not all low-hanging fruit is created equal, Tri-State G&T and Western have teamed up to show utilities how to take a bite out of the “watermelon” with a Commercial Lighting Workshop, May 25.

Utility employees, key account representatives and member services managers can bring their questions about lighting programs and technologies to this one-day workshop at Tri-State’s Westminster, Colo., headquarters. Western customers and Tri-State member systems don’t need to break their training budgets, either – the workshop is being offered free of charge.

Opportunities abound

Tri-State is shifting its focus from residential to commercial lighting efficiency, partly due to the success of residential programs. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) are now mainstream technology, readily available to consumers at an affordable price. However, the G&T’s recently released energy-efficiency potential study indicated that there was still plenty of room for improvement on the commercial side. “There is a lot of innovation going on in lighting, and it has the potential to make a big difference in businesses’ operating costs,” said Tri-State Energy Marketing Coordinator Keith Emerson.