Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association (PVREA) announced today that its board of directors established a goal to provide 80% carbon-free energy to its members by 2030. PVREA's carbon free goal is the first by an electric cooperative that is consistent with new state climate legislation signed by Colorado Governor Jared Polis last week, which encourages "the development of clean energy plans that will require greenhouse gas emissions caused by Colorado retail electricity sales to decrease eighty percent by 2030."
“Establishing the ’80 by 30’ goal is our first step toward increased reliance on carbon-free energy sources,” said Jeff Wadsworth, president and chief executive officer of PVREA in a press release. “By setting this ambitious goal, we have the opportunity to proactively address Colorado’s evolving regulatory environment and manage costs associated with potential future regulatory requirements.”
Steve Szabo, one of the PVREA members who has urged the co-op to embrace clean energy, said: “I am elated that the PVREA board, CEO and staff are working toward a carbon free electric generation portfolio. The move forward will benefit our local economy and environment. Thank You PVREA!”
Electric cooperatives have shifted their approach to renewable energy amid declining prices and growing public support, but wholesale power providers are key
Three electric cooperatives in Colorado have now set clean energy goals, reflecting co-ops' growing recognition of the opportunities presented by declining prices for renewable energy and increased public support for wind and solar power development.
The latest announcement came last week from Grand Valley Power, an electric cooperative that delivers electricity to more than 18,000 members mostly in Mesa County, Colorado. Grand Valley Power established a target of 60% clean energy by 2030, which the co-op described as "one of the most aggressive environmental targets of any electric cooperative in the nation."
In a press release, Grand Valley Power noted that the "announcement comes at a time when home- and business-owners are increasingly interested in having renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions." Grand Valley Power CEO Tom Walch said:
“With cost-effective advances in clean renewable energy technology, we’ll be able to meet this 60 percent target by 2030 while maintaining rate stability and our excellent reliability standards. This is one of the best ways we can deliver value to our consumers.”
Colorado ski resorts support Delta-Montrose Electric exit from Tri-State
The ski industry is increasingly focusing its sustainability efforts on decarbonizing the electric grid, by engaging with their power suppliers, regulators, and state policymakers. In the latest move, a group of Colorado ski resorts are supporting Delta-Montrose Electric Association's efforts to end its contract with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and pursue more renewable energy.
In a letter to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) last week, Colorado Ski Country USA President Melanie Mills wrote that the group "supports the efforts of Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) to withdraw from membership in Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc. (Tri-State) in order to develop more local renewable resources and stabilize its retail rates."
The letter also notes that of Colorado Ski Country USA's 23 member ski resorts, 16 buy electricity from rural electric cooperatives. Most of those co-ops buy wholesale power Tri-State, and so face limits on their abilities to pursue local renewable energy projects. That poses challenges for some ski resorts' sustainability efforts.
Ski resorts also notice higher electricity costs, as the letter explains: "As businesses and large consumers of energy, keeping energy sources affordable is critical for Colorado's ski areas to operate cost-effectively in the future."
Clean Energy Means Business Summit highlights renewable energy opportunities and challenges in rural Colorado
At the Clean Energy Means Business Summit in Denver this week, representatives of municipalities and companies in Colorado discussed how they are pursuing their renewable energy goals, including navigating the challenges and opportunities of working with electric cooperatives in Colorado. The event, organized by the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association and the Compact of Colorado Communities, also included presentations from solar energy developers, electric utilities, and state officials.
Craig Edwards, Director of Corporate Services at Aurora Organic Dairy, discussed how the company considers a variety of options for on-site renewable energy projects at its operations in Colorado and Texas, and said, “We’re just wrapping up a couple solar installations at two of our dairy farms here in Colorado, they’re our first steps towards our clean energy strategy.”
Edwards said that the Aurora had sometimes faced challenges in working with electric cooperatives as it pursues on-site renewable energy projects, but had found success by discussing the company’s goals with co-op staff. Aurora is still negotiating with other electric cooperatives about future projects:
We’re still working through many different negotiations with many of our co-ops. Each one of our locations we operate in has a unique mix of renewable energy sources and possibilities, we have a co-op for each one generally, so we look at everything on a case by case basis.
Holy Cross Energy announced last week that it plans to shift its power supplies away from coal and increase its use of renewable energy to 70% by 2030, without any increase in the costs of it power supply. The Glenwood Springs based electric cooperative says the plan would lead to a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 2014 levels.
Holy Cross Energy CEO Bryan Hannegan highlighted why the co-op could shift to renewable energy without increasing costs: “Thanks to advances in technology and changes in energy markets, we have the opportunity to bring on new renewable energy resources at costs comparable to our existing supply. This will enable us to meet our clean energy goals while maintaining the reliable, affordable and safe service our members have come to expect.”
Other electric utilities in the state have also begun to increase their use of renewable energy, taking advantage of the fact that new wind and solar power in Colorado is now cheaper than existing coal plants, and responding to growing demands for cleaner energy from large electricity consumers including municipal governments and some major companies. But Holy Cross Energy is the first electric cooperative in Colorado to establish an ambitious renewable energy target. Let’s look at how Holy Cross Energy plan to achieve its goals.
The impacts of corporate renewable energy goals are increasing across three major sectors of Colorado’s economy: skiing, technology, and beer.
Last month I looked at how cities in Colorado are helping push utilities in the region to embrace renewable energy. Communities like Boulder, Aspen, and Pueblo have made 100% renewable energy commitments, and the utilities that serve them are responding with plans to invest in more wind and solar power – although progress is uneven across the various utilities and electric cooperatives throughout the state.
Along with municipalities, several companies with operations in Colorado have also made 100% renewable energy commitments, and those too are getting results, as utilities respond to these major customers with new programs and plans for more clean energy.
Two key trends are boosting the impact of these corporate renewable energy commitments. First, companies are increasingly focused on adding renewable energy near their operations, instead of purchasing renewable energy credits from distant projects. And second, much larger companies have recently made 100% renewable energy commitments, which is significantly increasing the scale of renewable energy needed to meet company goals - and somewhat altering the power dynamic between utilities and their customers.
Let’s look at how these trends are playing out in three industries in Colorado: skiing, technology, and beer.
Lignite Energy Council shouldn’t be funded by utility ratepayers, Minnesota Attorney General argues
Major co-op supports Biden coal debt relief proposal that NRECA has sought to undermine
Basin Electric faces growing pressure on coal from co-ops, insurers, and banks
Tri-State: Moving a cooperative power provider from coal to clean energy
Tri-State will replace coal plants with a gigawatt of new wind and solar
United Power and La Plata Electric ask Colorado Public Utilities Commission to determine Tri-State exit fee
Colorado Rural Electric Association spent electric cooperatives’ money supporting Republican politicians
Colorado Public Utilities Commissioner questions "whether or not Tri-State has been candid with us"
Rural America could power a renewable economy - but first we need to solve coal debt
Tri-State explores FERC rate regulation to limit state oversight
Poudre Valley Electric sets "80 by 2030" carbon free goal
Guzman Energy proposal would finance retirement of Tri-State coal plants, add 1.2 gigawatts of new wind and solar power
Colorado Public Utilities Commission will oversee Tri-State resource planning
Colorado communities and state Energy Office urge Public Utilities Commission oversight of Tri-State
Reports examine the impacts of Tri-State's high wholesale power costs
Tri-State executive involved with anti-Clean Air Act group since 2005
US Congressional Committee requests details of Tri-State funding to anti-Clean Air Act group
Renewable energy projects stalled in 2018 among Tri-State member co-ops
Second co-op asks Tri-State to pull “Better Together” ads
Tri-State won’t allow co-op members to attend annual meeting
Tri-State expects member co-ops to support bylaw changes at annual meeting
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union calls on Tri-State to adopt flexible contracts and more clean energy
Co-ops in Colorado push for change at Tri-State
Will Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska remain reliant on coal?
Tri-State ad campaign tells co-ops they’re “better together”
La Plata Electric concerned Tri-State debt will lead to higher rates
Colorado Public Utilities Commission asserts jurisdiction over Tri-State
More Colorado co-ops announce clean energy goals
Ski industry climate change efforts shift to electric utilities and their regulators
Public Utilities Commission rejects Tri-State motion to exclude Colorado Energy Office from exit charge case
Tri-State claims that co-ops "have intervened on Tri-State's behalf at the PUC” don’t add up
Colorado state legislators urge Public Utilities Commission to determine Tri-State exit charge
United Power says Tri-State policies are turning away large customers
Next PUC Commissioner John Gavan "consensus choice" of Governors Hickenlooper and Polis
Tri-State policy change discourages battery projects in rural Colorado and New Mexico
Colorado Public Utilities Commission orders Tri-State to "satisfy or answer" exit charge complaint from Delta Montrose Electric
United Power seeks solutions to "increasingly outmoded G&T business models"
Clean Energy Means Business Summit highlights renewable energy opportunities and challenges in rural Colorado
Governor-elect Jared Polis says moving Colorado toward more renewable energy will be a top priority
Electric cooperative officials discuss cheap renewable energy and an “eroding monopoly”
Delta Montrose Electric members vote for new financing options, supporting a potential buyout of Tri-State contract
Poudre Valley Electric requests Tri-State policy changes and fuel mix study
Holy Cross Energy plans to shift away from coal, aiming for 70% renewable energy
What do corporate renewable energy commitments mean for electric utilities?
Colorado Energy Plan approval will mean new renewable energy investments in rural Colorado
Report: Tri-State could save $600 million by shifting from coal to renewable energy
Delta Montrose Electric seeks new financing options to end contract with Tri-State
Wind energy jobs in rural Colorado attract bipartisan support
Colorado Energy Plan analysis shows switching from coal to renewable energy will boost jobs and local tax revenue
Poudre Valley Electric and Xcel Energy Colorado President win national awards from Smart Electric Power Alliance
Latest coal plant subsidy proposal could hit electricity bills in the West
Moody’s report: “High quality renewable resources” could help Tri-State and Basin Electric navigate rising carbon transition risks
Senator Heinrich highlights “frustrations in New Mexico” with Tri-State’s limits on local solar
Moody’s report shows Tri-State’s coal plants are more expensive than new renewable energy
Tri-State’s limits on local energy development are a growing problem for co-op members
Governor Hickenlooper discusses Tri-State at the Climate Leadership Conference
Bids for Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan include a proposal for the world’s largest battery
New wind and solar power in Colorado is now cheaper than existing coal plants
Companies' 100% renewable energy goals are getting results in Colorado
What does cheap solar mean for electric cooperatives?
Colorado towns and cities are helping push utilities to embrace renewable energy
How are electric cooperatives navigating the transition from coal to cheap clean energy?
Blocked from building more solar projects, United Power shifts to community batteries
Economic reality sets in for Tri-State efforts to expand the Holcomb coal plant
Solar projects in the works in Grand and Jackson counties
Mountain Parks Electric grapples with solar