Tag Archives: rural electric cooperatives

Rural electric co-ops get shocking estimates of the cost to break up with Tri-State Generation

By Mark Jaffe, The Colorado Sun

Some of Tri-State’s 43 member co-ops have voiced a desire to develop more homegrown and cleaner electric generation – they are required to buy 95% of their electricity from the association, which still has substantial coal-fired generation.

“This does not move the ball,” United Power CEO Mark Gabriel said. “I think they are off by three zeros,” he said of his co-op’s exit fee. The association’s filing was in response to a ruling in June by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that Tri-State’s exit policies were “unjust and unreasonable or unduly discriminatory.”  Read more here.

Note: Nebraska Tri-State members seeking exit fees are the Wheat Belt Public Power District and the Northwest Rural Public Power District.

ACP NEWS RELEASE

The American Clean Power Association and the U.S. Energy Storage Association announce intent to merge

WASHINGTON DC, July 22, 2021 – The boards of directors of the American Clean Power Association (ACP) and the U.S. Energy Storage Association (ESA) have voted to pursue a merger of the two trade associations to combine their staff, programs, and members. The merger will bring together the diverse membership and talented team members of ESA with the resources and reach of ACP. Additionally, it will enhance the American Clean Power Association’s efforts to advocate for the economic and environmental advantages of the clean power economy and further position the renewable energy and storage industries for success as they move into a decade of transformative growth.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Deb Haaland Confirmed As 1st Native American Interior Secretary

By Nathan Rott, NPR KIOS

Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo, has become the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history. The Senate voted 51-40 Monday to confirm the Democratic congresswoman to lead the Interior Department, an agency that will play a crucial role in the Biden administration’s ambitious efforts to combat climate change and conserve nature.

Her confirmation is as symbolic as it is historic. For much of its history, the Interior Department was used as a tool of oppression against America’s Indigenous peoples. In addition to managing the country’s public lands, endangered species and natural resources, the department is also responsible for the government-to-government relations between the U.S. and Native American tribes. Read more here.

PUBLIC POWER

Cleaner Energy is Coming; the Public Needs to Own It. InsideSources article contributed by Josue De Luna Navarro, an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

A future where energy is 100 percent publicly owned and not profit-driven isn’t such a pipe dream. Deep-red Nebraska has had publicly owned electricity — which consists of public utility companies, co-operatives, and power districts — since 1946. This means that the state’s energy framework is not based on making a profit, but instead on providing power as a basic human right to its people. Whatever surplus they generate gets invested back into the community. Because of this structure, the state has lower utility bills than neighboring states. Other publicly owned rural electric cooperatives dating back to the New Deal exist all across the country. These systems aren’t perfect, but they prove that public energy ownership is perfectly possible.

American Public Power Association ResourcePublic Power in Nebraska

FEATURED LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Waverly Utilities doing its part on renewable energy, by Bob Buckingham of Waverly, The Courier
We would like to thank David Fredrick for his interest in Waverly’s energy future. His recent guest column provides us an opportunity to address the future of renewable opportunities for Waverly Utilities.

Previously Posted: GUEST COLUMN: Renewable energy is a good bet, contributed by David Fredrick, The Courier

LIHEAP

New $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan includes additional $4.5 billion for LIHEAP, American Public Power Association

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 signed into law by President Biden on March 11 includes a number of provisions of importance to public power utilities including an additional $4.5 billion in funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Overall, the act provides roughly $1.9 trillion in direct aid to individuals, state and local governments, and businesses.

Nebraska LIHEAP, Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services

The COVID relief plan also includes:

  • $100 million for grants to monitor and mitigate pollution in environmental justice communities
  • $30 billion for public transit systems

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

LONG-DURATION ENERGY STORAGE

Long-term storage gets a closer look with the growth of renewables, decarbonization push, by Paul Ciampoli, American Public Power Association

With continued growth in wind and solar power, long duration energy storage is seen by some as a key way in which to help smooth the country’s transition to a future where renewable energy plays a central role in the overall power supply mix and the push for decarbonization continues apace. Long-duration storage is still in the early stage of the product maturity curve and there are many economic and operational challenges that must be addressed if it is to play a key role in supporting the grid.

ORPHAN OIL & GAS WELLS

Energy companies have left Colorado with billions of dollars in oil and gas cleanup, High Country News

When an oil or gas well reaches the end of its lifespan, it must be plugged. If it isn’t, the well might leak toxic chemicals into groundwater and spew methane, carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere for years on end. There are nearly 60,000 unplugged wells in Colorado in need of this treatment — each costing $140,000 on average, according to the Carbon Tracker, a climate think tank, in a new report that analyzes oil and gas permitting data. Plugging this many wells will cost a lot —more than $8 billion, the report found.

Previously Posted

Co-ops trying to leave Tri-State say the electric utility is “stonewalling” by refusing to calculate the price to exit

By Mark Jaffe, The Colorado Sun

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is “stonewalling” efforts by seven rural electric cooperatives – in Colorado, New Mexico and Nebraska – to get estimates on how much it will cost them to leave the association, according to a complaint filed with federal regulators. “Tri-State’s refusal to perform the calculation required… is patently unjust and unreasonable,” according to the complaint to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “Eight of us asked for numbers in November and December through letters,” said Dean Hubbuck, chief energy resource officer at United Power in Brighton, Tri-State’s largest co-op. Continue reading here.

Nebraska Tri-State Members Seeking Exit Estimates:

As wind industry goes big, this New England startup looks to shrink turbines

By David Thill, Energy News Network

Skyscraper-high blades are increasingly standard on wind farms, but Pecos Wind Power thinks its small, distributed turbines will be a better fit in Vermont. The fact that the turbines are serving the communities they’re sited in could help secure community support, said Julia Leopold, head of communications at VPPSA [Vermont Public Power Supply Authority].

“If you can directly correlate the benefit of the project to the community, then the community will be a bit more receptive to it,” she said, noting large renewable projects are sometimes sited in communities while their power is sold elsewhere. Read more here.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION & RESOURCES

IN NEBRASKA 

Bill would regulate wind energy in Nebraska, KMTV

A new era for Tri-State

By Allen Best, Mountain Town News

Tri-State Generation and Transmission last week promised to deliver what Colorado wants, an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. As for how it will deliver on that pledge, it remains a bit of a mystery. Less coal production, obviously. More wind and solar, ditto. And, as has been highlighted in recent filings, more transmission to get electricity from renewable sources to its 16 member co-operatives in Colorado. Continue reading here.

Previously Posted

Tri-State Association members are located in four states: Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Nebraska.

Solar companies invest in acres in the Midwest

Kenosha News

More and more rural electric cooperatives and individual farmers are turning to solar power as an energy alternative. Brady Boell, director of safety and member services for the Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative, says his cooperative has built five sites in Iowa since October 2018. “The idea was to offer members a way to invest in solar energy,” he says. “Many cannot install these arrays on their own property, so this allows them to invest.” Solar energy use has rapidly grown over the past two years, says Tim Dwight, president of the Iowa Solar Trade Association and owner of Integrated Power Corporation, a solar energy installer. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Bill refines solar rules with input from pork producers, Kenosha Times

Photo Credit: Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY GUIDES FOR SOLAR & SMALL WIND PROJECTS

NRECA RESOURCES

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Renewable Energy Resources

Previously Posted News Release

DOE Selects NRECA for Wind Energy Research Initiative
The Department of Energy has selected the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to research small-scale, community-based wind energy solutions that can be deployed by electric cooperatives. NRECA will team with co-ops around the country to evaluate and deploy diverse types of distributed wind projects. Like NRECA’s solar deployment project, a similar DOE-funded program that accelerated utility-scale solar at co-ops across rural America, NRECA expects this project to increase the number of electric cooperatives incorporating wind applications into their resource planning. DOE has identified high technical potential for “hundreds of thousands of turbines” totaling more than 10 gigawatts of electric capacity on rural distribution grids. 

CO-LOCATION RESOURCES

Co-locating apiaries, pollinator-friendly plants, and industrial hemp with solar and wind projects can provide extra income for farmers and improve Nebraska’s honey production and retail sales, among other benefits. Click here and scroll down for a list of resources.

INCENTIVES & DEPRECIATION

Incentives for Homeowners & Businesses
Business and residential solar projects qualify for the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which is now 26% through December 31, 2020.

 

 

All Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency

Resource: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

Business Equipment Depreciation Resources

LAND LEASES

Solar and wind farm leases create extra income for farmers and other landowners and provide valuable tax revenues for local communities.

Tri-State plans 50% renewable energy by 2024 as member co-ops press for exit

By Dan Mika, Loveland Reporter-Herald

In a statement, La Plata said it supports Tri-State’s push toward renewable energy, but said the power provider’s rules are preventing it from creating its own series of renewable energy sources to meet its local carbon reduction targets. “While Tri-State’s future goal will help meet our carbon reduction goal, we do not yet know what the costs of its plan will be to our members and what LPEA’s role will be for producing local, renewable energy into the future,” said La Plata Energy Association CEO Jessica Matlock. Member co-ops are required to buy 95% of their power from Tri-State. [Tri-State Association’s 43 member co-ops are located in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and New Mexico]. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Rob Davis / Fresh Energy

Additional Recommended Reading 

Target Has Installed 500 Solar Power Systems

By Johnna Crider, CleanTechnica

In 2015, Target, one of the top US corporate solar power installers for 5 straight years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), committed to achieving 500 solar power installations by 2020. In December of 2019, Target announced that it reached its goal (a little bit ahead of schedule). Target completed its 500th rooftop solar installation in California, appropriately enough considering that it is the #1 state in the country for solar power. Read more here.

FEATURED INITITIVES


RE 100: 221 RE100 companies have made a commitment to go ‘100% renewable’. Read about the actions they are taking and why.

The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) is a membership association for large-scale energy buyers seeking to procure renewable energy across the U.S. REBA’s membership of over 200 includes stakeholders from across the commercial and industrial sector, non-profit organizations, as well as energy providers and service providers. Their goal is to catalyze 60 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy projects by 2025 and to unlock the energy market for all large-scale energy buyers by creating viable pathways to procurement.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Your electric co-op voice matters

By Joan May, Contributor, The Daily Sentinel

Tri-State’s members are required to purchase 95% of their electricity from Tri-State, mostly through 50-year contracts. This means that the co-ops can only build local energy to meet 5% of their needs, and are beholden to Tri-State and its increasingly expensive coal for the rest. Tri-State says they are working to fix that with their new community solar rules, and that’s a good start, but it surely won’t be enough to solve Tri-State’s expensive coal problem. Many co-op members still worry that Tri-State’s huge coal debt could lead to ever-increasing electricity rates for co-ops and their members. Read more here.

About Joan May
Former San Miguel County Commissioner Joan May is a co-op member of San Miguel Power Association now working on rural renewable energy transition. Tri-State provides electricity to 43 electric cooperatives in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska.

Photo: Tri-State Generation and Transmission plans to close its coal-fired power plant near Craig, Colorado by 2025.

Previously Posted

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Renewable Energy Resources

Previously Posted News Release

DOE Selects NRECA for Wind Energy Research Initiative
The Department of Energy has selected the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to research small-scale, community-based wind energy solutions that can be deployed by electric cooperatives. NRECA will team with co-ops around the country to evaluate and deploy diverse types of distributed wind projects. Like NRECA’s solar deployment project, a similar DOE-funded program that accelerated utility-scale solar at co-ops across rural America, NRECA expects this project to increase the number of electric cooperatives incorporating wind applications into their resource planning. DOE has identified high technical potential for “hundreds of thousands of turbines” totaling more than 10 gigawatts of electric capacity on rural distribution grids. 

NRECA Podcast

Along Those Lines: Dealing With the Disastrous Effects of Flooding in the Heartland, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Midwestern farmers faced devastating flooding last spring, with recovery efforts still ongoing as winter approaches. In the latest episode of Along Those Lines, we get a firsthand look at what it’s been like to cope with this situation from a couple who owns a farm in Richland, Nebraska. Kristi and Drew Wolfe, members of Cornhusker Public Power District, faced a combination of weather events back in March that changed their business forever.

Photo by Kristi Wolfe: An aerial view of Kristi and Drew Wolfe’s property in Richland, Nebraska, several days after the flooding began.

Tri-State, under pressure from its member co-ops to change or fall behind, is shifting to renewable energy

Giant power provider on the verge of deal with departing utility says it will shutter coal-fired plant in Nucla two years early as it retools carbon-emissions goals.

By Mark Jaffe, The Colorado Sun

Faced with renewable energy generation that undercuts the cost of power from coal-fired plants and new laws in Colorado and New Mexico setting high clean energy goals, Tri-State is being pushed by political and market forces to change or fall behind. “Our industry is facing significant challenges and we are positioning ourselves not only meet those challenges, but to leverage those opportunities for our membership,” Tri-State spokesman Lee Boughey said.

Mark Dyson, a principal at Rocky Mountain Institute and author of the study on Tri-State’s coal-fired plants, said in an email that the association’s announcement “suggests Tri-State is beginning to acknowledge the broad utility industry consensus that taking major steps toward a low-carbon energy future can be, in fact, more affordable than continuing with business-as-usual. The implementation details, when they are available, will tell how much of this opportunity they intend to pursue,” Dyson said. Read more here.

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Renewable Energy Data

Solar Energy 

Wind Energy

563 cooperatives in 36 states utilize wind as a source of power.
Nebraska ranks 5th among these states, with 30 cooperatives utilizing wind energy, behind Minnesota (44), Missouri (41, Indiana (38), and Iowa (31).

Hydro Power

727 cooperatives in 43 states utilize hydro power.
Nebraska is 6th among these states, with 30 cooperatives utilizing hydro power, behind
Minnesota (44), Texas (43), Georgia (42), Missouri (41), and Iowa (35).

Heat Recovery

Thermal capture technologies, including geothermal technologies, use heat to generate power. Geothermal power capturing the earth’s heat is cost-effective, reliable and available 24/7. Similar technology can also be used to recover heat that otherwise would have gone to waste from industrial processes, such as exhaust from natural gas pipeline compressors.

139 cooperatives in 10 states utilize heat recovery. Nebraska is 9th, with 6 cooperatives utilizing heat recovery.

Additional Resources