Tag Archives: Tri-State

Rural America could power a renewable economy – but first we need to solve coal debt

By Joe Smyth, Clean Cooperative

As prices for new wind and solar projects continue to drop, renewable energy is booming across the United States, surpassing coal earlier this year for the first time ever. And most renewable energy projects are built in rural areas, harnessing abundant wind and solar resources. Yet the electric cooperatives that power most of rural America remain particularly reliant on coal – in part because of billions of dollars in debt on increasingly uneconomic coal plants.

Solving this coal debt problem in rural America is the focus of a new report by the Center for Rural Affairs, We Own It, and CURE (Clean Up the River Environment). Rural Electrification 2.0: The Transition to a Clean Energy Economy explores strategies that policymakers and electric cooperatives could pursue to restructure or eliminate debt that is currently tied up with uneconomic coal plants. Continue reading here.

NRECA Infographic: While electric cooperatives have begun to add more new renewable energy projects in recent years, overall they still remain more reliant on coal than other utilities. According to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, coal accounts for 40% of electric cooperatives’ fuel mix, compared to 27% nationally. – Joe Smyth

Smyth’s list of recommended reading on electric cooperatives and coal debt:

He also provides a list of further reading on presidential candidates’ plans on climate, energy, and food.

1.6 Gigawatts Of New Solar Energy Potential From The Grassroots

By Tina Casey, CleanTechnica

Along with the usual funding for established research organizations and private sector partners, DOE is also working under the media radar with grassroots organizations to bring more solar energy to more people — especially lower and middle income populations that are falling behind in the solar race. Read more here.

ECO-Omaha’s Solar in Your Community Challenge Project


KYOCERA to Acquire SouthernCarlson, Inc

Kyocera News Release, Business Wire

Kyocera announced that it has concluded an agreement to acquire 100% ownership of SouthernCarlson, a US distributor of tools, fasteners, packaging and facility supplies, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Under the agreement, SouthernCarlson will operate as a U.S.-based subsidiary of Kyocera Corporation . . . Kyocera has become a leading supplier of industrial and automotive components, electronic devices, semiconductor packages, solar power generating systems, printers, copiers and mobile phones. Read more here.


  • NorthWestern Energy Seeks Montana Renewable Generation, Solar Industry
    Montana’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requires NorthWestern to procure energy from community renewable energy projects (CREPs) that meet certain criteria. NorthWestern, which provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serves approximately 726,400 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.
  • From now on, regional utility Tri-State will be subject to oversight from Colorado regulators, Denver Post. A bylaw has capped the amount cooperatives can produce on their own at 5 percent, requiring them to buy the rest from Tri-State. Members approved a new bylaw in April to remove the cap. A committee will develop new guidelines.
  • Colorado approves bill putting Tri-State under PUC as members flee to renewables, Utility Dive Approximately half of Tri-State’s generation comes from coal and an August report from the Rocky Mountain Institute found the utility’s 1 million customers could save $600 million through 2030 by shifting toward renewables. 
  • GBHS enters winning solar car, Great Bend Tribune
    The 21st Annual Sunflower ElectroRally was held April 25 at the Spencer Flight and Education Center in Scott City. The race is part of the Kansas ElectroRally Championship Series. Electric cars, designed and constructed from scratch, race to complete the most laps in a one-hour endurance race. Thirteen teams from Kansas and Nebraska came to compete in the Solar, Standard and Open classes. The program’s goal is to inspire an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) by involving participants in the design, construction, testing and development of competitive electric vehicles.

OPPD Focused On Continued Investment In Our Communities

Omaha Public Power District News Release
February 14, 2019

Omaha Public Power District is committed to investing in the communities it serves. Furthering that effort, today, the OPPD Board of Directors approved a labor contract for streetlight
conversion work within its service territory to replace current technology with light emitting
diode (LED) technology.

This is part of the district’s five-year plan, officially beginning next month, to replace nearly 100,000 existing high-pressure sodium fixtures within its service territory. To date, OPPD has
converted approximately 400 burned out streetlights to LED. The district is utilizing a contractor alongside OPPD employees due to the volume and time frame of work taking place.
Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading
NDEQ Co-hosting Nebraska Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Conference on March 25, NPPD News Release


The nuclear city goes 100% renewable, PV Magazine
Yesterday Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled the city’s
Resilient Chicago plan, which in action 38 is a commitment to
“transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy in buildings community-wide by 2035”. 


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.


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.

Economic reality sets in for energy company trying to build new coal plant in Kansas: Coal can’t compete with cheap clean energy

Joe Smyth, Think Progress

Windy states like Kansas are particularly well situated to benefit from the declining costs of wind energy. A March report from Moody’s Investors Service found that in the 15 states with the best wind resources, new wind generation now costs significantly less than existing coal-fired power plants. Kansas is among those windy states, along with the four states where Tri-State sells electricity: Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska. Read more here.