Tag Archives: Rural Electric Cooperatives

Push for renewables vexes Western power supplier

By Keriann Conroy, Perspective, High Country News

Colorado’s largest member-owned generation and transmission provider may be in trouble.
Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which provides wholesale electricity to rural
cooperatives in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Nebraska, is facing increasing pressure to let go of some of its contracts and to improve its renewable portfolio. But it appears unable to change fast enough to keep up with the times.

Most of Tri-State’s power is generated from coal- and gas-fired plants or large hydroelectric dams, but it is now facing regulatory hassles and the potential exodus of customers. Rural
“distribution” cooperatives are currently waiting to see how much it would cost them to exit their contracts, while Colorado moves toward regulations requiring more renewables.
Read more here.

Photo Credit: Missy Kennedy/Flickr

Keriann Conroy is a graduate student at Western Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado, studying democratic practices and sustainability.

Previously Posted News Stories & RMI Report

Also of Potential Interest

Center for Rural Affairs explores renewable energy issues

By Joseph Hopper, Spencer Daily Reporter

The Nebraska and Iowa-based nonprofit, the Center for Rural Affairs, recently published a number of publications focusing on renewable energy in Iowa. Its most recent research publication, entitled “Powering Iowa: Rural Perspectives on Iowa’s Renewable Energy Transformation,” highlighted current opinions on various renewable energy issues, such as wind turbines and transmission line development. In addition to the center’s study on opinions of renewable energy, the center authored a white paper on wind energy ordinances in the state and a second publication examining incentives for tax revenue from transmission lines. Read the entire article here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Highline is 80 Years Strong: Electric cooperative celebrates with members at annual meeting, by Darci Tomky, The Holyoke Enterprise
Of the energy sold to members from Tri-State, about 30 percent was generated from renewable sources last year. That’s a considerable increase from the 17 percent reported in 2007. “That is the largest percentage of renewables in generation and transmission companies across the country and one of the highest of any utility in the U.S.” said Farnsworth. Included in Highline’s renewable projects is the Trailblazer Waste Heat Generation Site. Emphasizing its value to Highline, Farnsworth said it has brought $2.3 million to Highline’s bottom line since 2009. Highline is currently looking at options for a utility scale solar project that could provide savings to members over the next 20 to 25 years.

Nebraska Cooperatives Currently Using Solar & Wind

  • NRECA’s Interactive Map: Cooperative Solar Across the Country, shows that 443 cooperatives in 43 states utilize solar as a source of power. Eight Nebraska co-ops currently use solar, following: Georgia (42), Minnesota (37), North Carolina (26), Tennessee (24), Colorado (23), Indiana (23), Iowa (22), Oklahoma (21), South Carolina (21), Wisconsin (19), Arkansas (18), New Mexico (16), Mississippi (14), Illinois (13) Texas (11), Virginia (11), Alabama (10), Florida (9), and Wyoming (9). Click here and scroll down to individual states’ information.
  • NRECA’s Interactive Map: Cooperative Wind Across the Country, shows that.564 cooperatives in 37 states use wind as a source of power. Thirty Nebraska co-ops utilize wind energy, following Minnesota (44), Missouri (41), Indiana (38), and Iowa (31). Click here and scroll down to individual states’ information, including a list of all 30 Nebraska cooperatives using wind.

Are US automakers falling behind vehicle technology trends?

Ask a Scientist – December 2017, Union of Concerned Scientists 

This month we asked Dave Cooke, a UCS senior vehicles analyst, to set the record straight on the status of US automakers. Cooke, who has a PhD in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of the new report, “In Need of a U-Turn: Automakers’ History of Intransigence and Opportunity for Change.”

Read more here.

Dave Cooke is a senior vehicles analyst in the Clean Vehicles Program, specializing in both light- and heavy-duty fuel economy.  He conducts research on fuel efficiency technologies and the implications for oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions across the transportation sector. Dr. Cooke received his Ph.D. in condensed matter physics in 2010 from the University of California, Berkeley.  Prior to this, he received his BS in physics from Harvey Mudd College in 2002 and his MS in physics from the University of California, San Diego in 2004.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

University of Minnesota makes long-term commitment to clean energy

By Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

By next year more than 20 percent of the electricity needs of the University of Minnesota will be powered by renewable energy. Over the course of the last several months, the university has inked a 10-year subscription to a new green tariff program developed by Xcel Energy. It joins a list of clean energy investments that includes a much bigger deal to purchase power from four community solar gardens for a combined total of 24.5 megawatts (MW) and construction on its own 2.25-MW solar program. Continue reading.

Image: Solar array on the University of Minnesota campus.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

AMERICAN WIND ENERGY ASSOCIATION MESSAGE TO THE NATION

It’s a wrap: Best moments from the first #AmericanWindWeek

Déjà Vu as Co-ops Lead in Satisfaction

By Michael W. Kahn
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Strong showings from electric cooperatives, as well as greater satisfaction among all electric consumers, are among the highlights of a new J.D. Power report. The firm’s 2017 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study shows several co-ops with top-of-the-chart scores besting many investor-owned and municipal utilities. Read more here.

Facts from NRECA’s Website on Cooperatives and Renewable Energy

  • Electric cooperatives across the country are actively expanding their future portfolios to include an array of renewable energy
  • Currently, 95% of NRECA’s distribution members offer renewable options to 40 million Americans
  • Co-ops own nearly 1.3 GW of renewable capacity and have long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) for more than 7.3 GW – in addition to roughly 10 GW of preference power contracts with federal hydroelectric facilities.

Solar Deployment and Co-Op Solar

  • By the end of 2017, the total solar energy capacity of America’s electric cooperatives will be five times what it was two years ago.
  • This year, co-ops are on pace to add 480 MW of solar, which would bring their total capacity to 872 MW. This more than quadruples the 180 MW reached in 2015 and represents a 20-fold increase over the 37 MW capacity in 2010.
  • In addition, over the last two years, cooperatives have expanded their solar footprint from 34 states to 44 states.
  • 133 cooperatives in 30 states offer community solar programs

Q&A: How rural co-ops can help lead the smart grid transition

 Written by David J. Unger, Midwest Energy News

Rural electric cooperatives spread across the U.S. in the 1930s to electrify parts of the country where as many as nine out of ten rural homes lacked electricity. Today, many of those co-ops are building on that legacy by deploying an advanced, 21st-century version of the electricity distribution systems they brought to farms decades ago. In some cases, rural America is seeing the smart grid arrive at their doorstep well before their urban and suburban counterparts. As the newly elected, two-year-term president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), Phil Carson has a bird’s-eye view of grid modernization efforts underway in rural America. Continue reading.

Phil Carson, director of the Tri-County Electric Co-op in Illinois, is the new president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Rural Solar Stories: New! Dairyland Power Cooperative

Dairyland Power became a national leader in 2016 when they began implementing a plan to develop up to 25 megawatts (MW) of solar power. This project makes Dairyland a national solar leader with one of the largest solar projects of any rural electric cooperative, nationwide. Click here to read more, watch a 1-minute video and view a series of 13 photos and a Map of Dairyland Power Cooperative Solar Project Sites.

MORE RURAL SOLAR STORIES

ON RURAL SOLAR STORIES.ORG YOU WILL ALSO FIND

ABOUT RURAL SOLAR STORIES.ORG
Rural Solar Success Stories is hosted by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). ELPC is a Midwestern legal and policy advocacy group that works for renewable energy in many ways, including as a leading supporter for the energy programs of the Farm Bill.

NATIONAL RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE ASSOCIATION’S INTERACTIVE MAP
According to NRECA’s data, 352 cooperatives in 43 states utilize solar as a source of power, including 7 in Nebraska, 10 in Iowa, 37 in Minnesota, 19 in Wisconsin, 1 in South Dakota, 22 in Colorado, and 3 in Kansas. Click here to link to NRECA’s Solar Map. Scroll down and click on any state to learn more about rural cooperatives’ utility-scale and community solar development nationwide.

RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO NATIONAL COOPERATIVES

Can Solar Benefit Rural America’s Economy?

By Bobbi Peterson, The Energy Collective

Currently, the solar power industry employs 260,077 workers – up 24.5% from 2015 — and 51,000 of the jobs added were for newly created positions. Many of these positions are in rural areas, taking advantage of ample space and solar’s unique scalability. Also on the rise are rural solar cooperatives, which invest in and support solar power, like the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. This association is a conglomerate of 44 coops from Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and New Mexico . . . Beyond the jobs market, rural consumers also stand to gain from the advent of affordable solar technology. The cost of solar panels has been declining for some time, allowing more and more rural consumers to install them on their property.
Click here to read the entire article.

RELATED REPORT & NEWS STORIES PREVIOUSLY FEATURED

New website highlights solar advancements made by rural co-ops

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News


Electric cooperatives that have taken the plunge into solar energy are the stars of a new website aimed at persuading more co-ops to add solar energy to their mix. RuralSolarStories.org, produced by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC),  features the tales of three rural electric cooperatives across the Midwest that have responded to customer interest by investing in solar generation. More stories are on the way. Continue reading.

Photo: Warren McKenna of Farmers Cooperative in Iowa explains the decision to pursue solar power

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Co-Ops Bring Solar to Hundreds of Rural Communities

By Tina Casey, Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit

The U.S. Energy Department pushed out a raft of good news for renewable energy fans this past week. Of particular note is an update on the PV System Toolkit supported by the agency’s SunShot solar initiative. The toolkit focuses on helping rural communities partake in the surging solar market that cities and suburban communities now enjoy. The new PV System Toolkit demonstrates just how deeply the solar industry is now embedded in the civic infrastructure of the US. The effort is helmed by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), which won an Energy Department ‘Sunrise’ award designed to cut costs by developing templates for replicating solar innovations. Read more.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING