Tag Archives: Rural Electric Cooperatives

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

Mondelez International Signs VPPA for 65 MW from Texas Solar Farm

By Alyssa Danigelis, Energy Manager Today

Mondelez International signed a virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) with Enel Green Power North America for a 65-MW portion of the renewable company’s Roadrunner solar farm in Texas. EGPNA has been on a roll. Last year saw Starbucks and Kohler signing agreements as well as Facebook and Adobe snapping up energy from the 320-MW Rattlesnake Creek wind farm. Late last year, Enel’s Hill Topper wind farm in Illinois began operations. Then the Rattlesnake Creek wind farm in Nebraska started operations in January. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Enel Green Power

Previously Posted Virtual Power Purchase Agreements

Resources

Renewable Energy Aggregation & Purchase Agreements

Educational Opportunities

Commentary: Rural Power Co-Ops ‘Stranded In Coal’

By Erik Hatlestad and Liz Veazey, Daily Yonder

Rural electric cooperatives’ loyalty to coal is holding rural America back. That’s according to a new report authored by CURE (Clean Up the River Environment), We Own It, and the Center for Rural Affairs.

During the 1970s, most rural electric cooperatives made significant investments to build coal-burning power plants. At the time, the coal investment strategy made in the interest of providing low-cost electricity to their member-owners. Co-ops took on massive amounts of debt, mostly from the federal government. One year a loan to Basin Electric (a consortium of cooperatives that serves much of the Northern Great Plains) for a coal plant took up almost the entire annual budget for loans from the USDA’s Rural Utility Service. Continue reading here.

Report’s Authors
Erik Hatlestad is director of the Energy Democracy Program at CURE (Clean Up the River Environment), Liz Veazey is network director of We Own It, and Katie Rock is a policy associate at the Center for Rural Affairs.

Upcoming Webinar
Erik Hatlestad and Liz Veazey will host a webinar about their report on Monday, June 24, at noon Central. Register here.

Additional Recommended Reading

  • NM co-op started something big in electricity markets, Albuquerque Journal, guest column by Greg Brophy, Colorado Director, The Western Way
    According to Standard & Poor’s, Tri-State’s debt load has risen sharply over the past decade from $1.7 billion to more than $3 billion. SEC filings show the largest of those loans is a $2.8 billion “master indenture,” which imposes conditions on how much Tri-State charges for wholesale electricity. In short, Tri-State must keep rates high enough to cover payments on billions of dollars of debt. This is critically important. Tri-State was created in the 1950s by rural cooperatives to provide cheaper sources of wholesale electricity, not more expensive sources. But even Tri-State concedes that “cheaper prices are now available elsewhere.”
  • Co-op elections show strengthening interest in electrical transition, by Allen Best, Mountain Town News
  • Previously Posted: ‘Stranded costs’ mount as coal vanishes from the grid

SUNDA RESOURCES FOR RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s innovative SUNDA Project helps rural electric cooperatives nationwide to accelerate utility solar. SUNDA stands for “Solar Utility Network Deployment Acceleration.”

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.