Tag Archives: Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association

Solar Industry Outlines a Policy Agenda for the Biden Administration, 117th Congress

SEIA News Release, November 12, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is releasing a suite of policies and executive actions that it is asking President-elect Biden and the newly elected Congress to act on during their first 100 days in office.

“Our 100-day agenda aligns with President-elect Biden’s vision to build back better, and represents a critical opportunity to meet the moment of the climate era with equity and justice at the forefront,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Even as we face a likely divided government, every facet of this agenda has had bipartisan support. Now is the time to take action to generate economic opportunities for Americans in a way that promotes competition and addresses the climate crisis.” Read more here.

GREEN BIZ 350 PODCAST

Episode 245: How President-elect Joe Biden could help U.S. farmers, by Heather Clancy, Joel Makower & Jim Giles

TRANSMISSION

Transmission troubles? A solution could be lying along rail lines and next generation highways, Utility Dive. Recent studies, including the landmark and reportedly suppressed Department of Energy Seam study, show expanded transmission is critical. But two key barriers — where to put the new lines and how to pay for them — still slow development, according to a June 2020 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report to Congress. Allocation of the new lines’ costs remains unresolved, but new approaches to siting are attracting attention.

TRI-STATE

Tri-State ups the amount of greenhouse gases it will cut in Colorado by adding wind and solar generation, The Colorado Sun. Colorado’s second biggest electricity provider – Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association – upped its goal for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to an 80% cut by 2030 – putting itself in line with other utilities in the state. Tri-State is joining with North Dakota-based Basin Electric Power Cooperative, the Deseret Power Cooperative in Utah, the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska and the federal Western Area Power Administration to explore joining the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).

Tri-State is a nonprofit cooperative of 45 members, including 42 electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in four states: Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. Together, they provide power to more than a million electricity consumers.

CROWDFUNDED TRIBAL SOLAR 

Crowdfunded solar puts Red Lake Nation on a path to energy sovereignty, by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

“We have to prove that we can do this and we have to do this not only for ourselves but for other tribal nations,” said Red Lake member Bob Blake, the founder and owner of Solar Bear installation company. The workforce training center solar array is the second of 12 solar projects planned for the reservation. The first sits not far away atop the Red Lake Government Center, a building distinguished by incorporating a two-story face of an eagle with wings spread across the facade. The projects are the first two solar installations in Minnesota to be financed through crowdfunding, in which dozens of small investors lend to businesses to support entrepreneurs and their products. The tribe has a separate initiative to construct a utility-scale 13-megawatt solar farm in partnership with Allete, one of the region’s primary electricity providers.

GEOTHERMAL

The Earth itself could provide carbon-free heat for buildings, by David Roberts, Vox
What exactly are the technologies that can provide heat from the Earth? There are two basic categories. Let’s start by looking at the smaller side.

NEBRASKA’S FIRST ALL-GEOTHERMAL NEIGHBORHOOD

The Bridges is a unique neighborhood being developed in Lincoln, Nebraska of lakefront lots and traditional lots. Geothermal energy is featured throughout the entire development, which is landscaped with miles of trails and covered bridges. Download a brochure.

GAS BANS GROWING IN CALIFORNIA

San Francisco’s gas ban on new buildings could prompt statewide action, Utility Dive
The vote adds San Francisco to the growing list of nearly 40 California cities to pass such ordinances since Berkeley’s historic ban in July 2019.

FINANCIAL RISKS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

In first for Fed, U.S. central bank says climate poses stability risks, Reuters
The U.S. Federal Reserve for the first time called out climate change among risks enumerated in its biannual financial stability report, and warned about the potential for abrupt changes in asset values in response to a warming planet. “Acute hazards, such as storms, floods, or wildfires, may cause investors to update their perceptions of the value of real or financial assets suddenly,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in comments attached to the report, released Monday.

EV CHARGING STATIONS 

NREL report says EV charging stations continued strong growth in early 2020, American Public Power Association

The report’s statistics tap data from the Alternative Fueling Station Locator, which NREL said is the most widely used tool on the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center. The report is available here.

EV REBATES 

WoodMac: Large-Scale Solar Holds Cost Edge Despite ITC Stepdown, Coronavirus Impacts

By Colin Smith, Greentech Media

Voluntary procurement of utility solar remains the top driver of U.S. utility PV in development, according to Wood Mackenzie. WoodMac defines voluntary procurement as procurement based solely on the economic competitiveness against other energy sources of electricity generation. 

Procurement of utility solar by corporate off-takers currently ranks second overall. However, the share of RPS-driven solar, which is procured to help utilities meet zero carbon or renewable energy mandates, has also grown and represented 28 percent of PPA contracts signed in the first half of 2020. Continue reading here.

Colin Smith is a senior solar analyst at Wood Mackenzie and contributor to the Solar Data Hub.

Photo by Beyond My Ken / Wikimedia Commons

HYDROGEN

  • NextEra Energy Sees Hydrogen As A Zero Emissions Alternative To Natural Gas, CleanTechnica. NextEra likes to conduct small experiments with new technologies to see whether it is cost effective, and then it goes big if the trials are successful. That’s what it did with solar panels. It now plans to install 30 million of them by 2030. Early tests of battery storage were completed successfully, which led to the decision to construct the Manatee battery facility. Now the company has its eye on another technology that may help it eliminate all emissions associated with the electricity it provides to its customers — hydrogen made by electrolysis using renewable energy that would otherwise be “clipped” or curtailed.
  • Who Will Own the Hydrogen Future: Oil Companies or Power Utilities?, Greentech Media
    Utilities NextEra, Iberdrola and Uniper have all launched recent forays into green hydrogen, challenging a sector dominated by oil companies.

ORPHAN OIL & GAS WELLS & GREEN JOBS

Let’s Hire Laid-Off Oil and Gas Workers to Fight Climate Change, by Michael R. Bloomberg, Bloomberg Opinion. Plugging a single abandoned well can cut its methane emissions by 99%, according to the EPA, and the work requires skills that oil and gas workers already possess. Yet despite the best efforts of state regulators, most abandoned wells — more than 2 million — remain unplugged. A federal program to plug so-called “orphan” wells could create as many as 120,000 well-paying jobs, while preventing hundreds of thousands of tons of greenhouse gases from escaping into the atmosphere. 

DOMINION

TRI-STATE GENERATION & TRANSMISSION ASSOCIATION

United Power’s battle: why it matters, Brighton Standard-Blade
United Power is one of 45 members that make up Tri-State, a co-op that supplies power to service territories in Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.

“SOLAR-FOR-COAL SWAPS”

Electric co-ops lead growing wave of early coal plant retirements with ‘solar-for-coal swaps’, PV Magazine. A new white paper from Energy Innovation, an energy policy firm, suggests that one way to speed up the process may be found in the “solar-for-coal swaps” that a small number of U.S. electric cooperatives have successfully completed. As the name implies, the main idea here is for a utility to swap out power from aging coal plants for solar generation. Private sector financing for the swap allows the coal plants to be bought and then retired ahead of schedule.

ANOTHER PUBLIC-WORKER PENSION SYSTEM INVESTING IN RENEWABLES

As Activists Push NJ to Divest from Fossil Fuels, State Turns to Green-Energy Fund, New Jersey Spotlight. New Jersey’s public-worker pension system is committing up to $100 million in assets to a private-equity fund that will invest solely in renewable-energy infrastructure projects around the globe. The investment in the Stonepeak Global Renewables Fund is the pension system’s first large-scale foray into backing renewable-energy production.

SOLAR PLUS STORAGE

EDF, NV Energy sign power contract for one of the world’s largest solar-plus-storage projects, PV Magazine.The two firms have a 22-year power purchase agreement for the electricity generated by the upcoming Chuckwalla solar farm, which will have a rated capacity of 200 MW solar and 180 MW/720 MWh storage.

OFFSHORE WIND

Floating Offshore Wind on Cusp of Unlocking Big Source of Finance, Experts Say. Greentech Media Non-recourse finance is the largest source of funding for offshore wind, and lenders are becoming more comfortable with floating turbines.

PLUGIN VEHICLES

Tesla = 19% of Global Plugin Vehicle Market, by CleanTechnica
According to data from EV Volumes, Tesla was #1 in terms of plugin vehicles sold globally and had nearly 3 times as many sales as #2 Volkswagen, or just slightly more than #2 Volkswagen plus #3 BMW plus #4 BYD. Overall, as the title states, Tesla took home 19% of the world’s plugin vehicle sales in the first half of 2020.

EV CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE

100% Renewable Energy For 2,700 New EV Fast Charging Stations In USA, by Tina Casey, CleanTechnica. The renewable energy angle is an important one for EV charging because it enlists drivers in the broader transition away from fossil fuels. As it stands today, EV drivers who charge from the grid may still be getting their power from coal or natural gas. Fast charging companies that insist on 100% renewable energy gather thousands (and soon, millions) of individual EV drivers into a powerful force that accelerates the demand for wind and solar.

GLOBAL RENEWABLE ENERGY GROWTH

Renewable Energy Growth Continues At A Blistering Pace, Forbes
Renewables were the only category of energy that grew globally at double digits over the past decade. For perspective, in 2009 the world consumed 8.2 exajoules of renewable energy. In 2019, that had nearly quadrupled to 29.0 exajoules.

NPPD cutting ribbon on new community solar facility

Nebraska Public Power District News Release


Columbus, Neb. – 
The time has come to celebrate the launch of a new community solar farm with the official ribbon cutting for the Scottsbluff II project. The new addition to the Scottsbluff community’s renewable energy portfolio is set to go live on March 1, with the ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. March 2. “We are very excited to cut the ribbon and celebrate the official launch of Scottsbluff II,” says Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) Vice-President and Retail General Manager Tim Arlt. “The Scottsbluff II project is a great partnership between the city of Scottsbluff – NPPD and N-Solar and these combined efforts are what made this project a reality.” The ceremony is set to take place in the Landers Memorial Soccer Complex parking lot at 4205 5th Avenue just outside the new solar facility. Continue reading here.

OPPD News

Structure rebuild completed in time for potential flooding, The Wire

Additional Recommended Reading   

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 

Renewable advocates highlight ‘most effective’ path to net-zero emissions as House releases clean energy proposal

By Matthew Bandyk, Utility Dive

A combination of a federal clean energy standard, a technology-neutral tax credit, a carbon pricing approach and transmission regulation reforms is the “most effective scenario” in which the U.S. achieves dramatic greenhouse gas emissions reductions by the middle of the century, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) said in a report released Thursday as House Democrats prepare a sweeping piece of legislation intended to achieve nationwide net-zero emissions by 2050.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee released a framework on Wednesday laying out the major provisions of the CLEAN Future Act, a planned bill that would combine a federal Clean Electricity Standard with measures like energy efficiency targets for buildings, a national climate bank proposal and incentives for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Flickr; Tim Evanson

More On The CLEAN Future Act: New Jersey Congressman announces CLEAN Future Act, Renewable Energy Magazine

CONSERVATIVE ENERGY NETWORK SURVEY

Survey Says Clean Energy Policy Is Important Across Party Lines, CleanTechnica
“This survey demonstrates that there is strong support for progress in clean energy policy across the nation—and significantly among conservatives as well,” said Mark Pischea, president and CEO of CEN. “

FEATURED PODCASTS

RESEARCH

Our Most-Read Research Spotlights From 2019, Greentech Media
The top GTM stories that drew from Wood Mackenzie research.

GTM WEBINARS

Two upcoming Greentech Media research webinars: An Accelerated View of the Energy Transition, January 14 and A New Chapter for the North American Wind Market, January 30.

TRI-STATE

Tri-State to shut New Mexico, Colorado coal plants by 2030, but move may not satisfy unhappy members, Utility Dive. The G&T utility will close the Escalante Station coal plant near Prewitt, N.M., by end of 2020, and the Craig Station plant and associated Colowyo Mine in northwest Colorado by 2030. But it is not clear the announcement will quell a rebellion among some Tri-State’s members who want lower rates and the ability to develop their own local renewable power. According to the Sierra Club, Tri-State charges its 43 co-ops in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Nebraska rates that are approximately 20% above average.

ON-FARM SOLAR

On-Farm Solar Grows as Farmers See Economic Rewards—and Risks, Civil Eats
From struggling dairy operations to massive grain operations, farms are starting to see the light as on-farm solar proves to be an important income stream.

STORAGE

ORNL Researchers Create Geothermal Energy Storage System, Renewable Energy Magazine
Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers created a geothermal energy storage system that could reduce peak electricity demand up to 37 percent in homes while helping balance grid operations.

DOE’S ENERGY STORAGE GRAND CHALLENGE

DOE unveils plan to make US global storage leader by 2030, reduce foreign dependence, Utility Dive

CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROCUREMENT

LES funds $1.75 mil in incentives for efficiency upgrades

By Peter Maloney, American Public Power Association

Lincoln Electric System (LES) in Nebraska is continuing its Sustainable Energy Program with $1.75 million in incentive funds for customers that want to switch to more energy efficient equipment. LES says that since it began its Sustainable Energy Program (SEP) in 2009, customers have accessed $22.5 million in incentives and spent $126.6 million on energy-efficient equipment and/or services. The incentive level for the SEP program in 2019 was $1.5 million. “It is the eleventh year of the program,” and the utility’s board is “solidly behind it,” and there is no sign of that waning, Marc Shkolnick, LES’ manager of energy services, said. “They see it as a fitting role for a public power provider.” Continue reading here.

Nebraska Also In The News Here

In rural Colorado, the kids of coal miners learn to install solar panels

By Nick Bowlin, High Country News

This story is a part of the ongoing Back 40 series, where High Country News reporters look at national trends and their impacts close to home.

At a picnic table in a dry grass field, a group of elementary school students watched as high school senior Xavier Baty, a broad-shouldered 18-year-old in a camouflage ball cap and scuffed work boots, attached a hand-sized solar panel cell to a small motor connected to a fan. He held the panel to face the setting Colorado sun, adjusting its angle to vary the fan speed.

“Want to hear a secret?” he asked the kids around him. “This is the only science class I ever got an A in.” Continue reading here.

Nick Bowlin is an editorial fellow at High Country News.

Gunnison navigates net-zero scenario

Gunnison Country Times

The City of Gunnison is narrowing in on its goal of becoming “net-zero” in its electric power supply next year. MEAN [Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska] representative Sarah Jones said the agency is currently working with city leaders to craft a new resource portfolio to meet Gunnison’s net-zero goal. “We are actively working with them to achieve their goals right now,” said Jones. Jones pointed to two other communities in Colorado, Aspen and Glenwood Springs, that have followed a similar path of pursuing renewable energy in lieu of reliance on fossil fuels. Both those municipalities served by MEAN are now sourcing energy from non-carbon emitting sources to be 100 percent renewable. However, according to City Manager Russ Forrest, while the goal is to be net-zero, there are still contractual details to be worked out. Read more here.

Photo: MEAN’s 30-MW Kimball, Nebraska Wind Facility. See: GE-Powered Kimball Wind Project Begins Operations In Nebraska, North American Windpower

About MEAN

The Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) is the not-for-profit wholesale electricity supply organization of NMPP Energy. Created in 1981, MEAN provides cost-based power supply, transmission and related services to 69 participating communities in four states: Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Previously Posted 

A Renewable Energy Future for Colorado Communities Served by the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, report completed in February of 2019 by Sustainable Development Strategies Group (SDSG), a nonprofit research group based in Gunnison, Colorado.

Will Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska remain reliant on coal?, by Joe Smyth, Clean Cooperative
One striking finding in the SDSG report: coal accounted for 61% of MEAN’s resource mix in 2017, according to its 2017 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). And in contrast to major power suppliers for other Colorado towns and cities like Platte River Power Authority and Xcel Energy, MEAN expects that coal will remain a large portion of its energy mix, and even increase slightly to 64% by 2030.

Most electric cooperatives in Colorado face limits on local renewable energy development, because of their contracts with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. The SDSG report details how the towns and cities that buy power from MEAN also face limits on local energy projects, following a 2005 decision by MEAN to place a moratorium on new generation. But MEAN has also made exceptions to that policy – most notably, the city of Aspen is a member of MEAN, but was able to reach its 100% renewable energy goal in part by negotiating with MEAN.

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.

Tracking Progress on 100% Clean Energy Targets

By Julia Pyper, Greentech Media

According to a new report from the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, 13 states, districts and territories, as well as more than 200 cities and counties, have committed to a 100 percent clean electricity target — and dozens of cities have already hit it. This means that one of every three Americans, or roughly 111 million U.S. residents representing 34 percent of the population, live in a community that has committed to or has already achieved 100 percent clean electricity. Read more here.

CORPORATE NEWS

MORE 100% RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS

100% Wind & Solar Energy At Research Lab In Antarctica, CleanTechnica

TRI-STATE 

United Power and La Plata Electric explore ways to leave Tri-State, ask PUC for help, Craig Daily Press
United, based in Brighton, is the largest co-op in the association serving 92,000 homes and businesses in Front Range communities, while La Plata is the third largest co-op, with about 37,000 members. Together they account for about 20% of Tri-State’s sales. Tri-State alone serves 43 rural electric cooperatives in four states — Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. Colorado alone accounts for 65% of all Tri-State electricity sales.

NEW ILLINOIS LAW

New state law could allow more aggressive climate action, The Daily Northwestern, Northwestern University and Evanston News Source

LAWSUIT TO WATCH

A 24-Year-Old Is Suing Pension Fund for Not Being Green Enough, Fortune
The Federal Court battle is shaping up to be a unique test case. Are pension funds in breach of their fiduciary duties by failing to mitigate the financial ravages of a warmer planet?

FEATURED ARTICLE & REPORT

How to assess candidates’ decarbonization and climate resilience plans, contributed article by Robert Lampert, Senior Scientist at RAND Corporation. Published by GreenBiz. Offering ambitious future targets for decarbonization and climate resilience is a good start. But unless a climate plan is comprehensive, includes contingency plans and opens the floodgates for change, it can’t and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

In his article, Lampert references the Center For Climate And Energy Solutions (C2ES)
In a year-long collaboration with companies – and with the RAND Corporation, and the Joint Global Change Research Institute – C2ES produced and modeled three scenarios for reducing U.S. emissions 80 percent by 2050. The resulting report, Pathways to 2050: Scenarios for Decarbonizing the U.S. Economy, presents the scenarios and modeling results, as well as key takeaways. These include the importance of policy in driving technology deployment and the need for all-in effort that includes policymakers at all levels, companies, investors and the public. Stories on the report have appeared in major media, including AxiosBloomberg NewsForbes, the Kleinman Center for Energy PolicyPolitico, and Utility Dive.
Factsheet: Near-Term Federal Actions to Address Climate Change outlines an array of federal actions that represent opportunities for bipartisan progress on climate change.

SOLAR MOSAIC 

Institutional investors warm to residential solar securitizations, PV Magazine
Solar Mosaic’s recent $208 million securitization of residential solar loans is the latest sign that institutional investors are getting more comfortable with this class of asset-backed securities.

AWEA BLOG POST

The Wind Wildlife Research Fund: Producing results through innovation and collaboration

OFFSHORE WIND OUTLOOK

Offshore wind will be a $1T industry by 2040, but our oceans and economy need it now, Utility Dive Contributed article by Stephanie McClellan, director of the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind, a U.S. offshore wind energy policy and communications program based at the University of Delaware.

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ENERGY STORAGE 

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