When Do Alternate Energy Sources Make Sense?

By Jeff Wadsworth, CEO

The intricate details that go into running an electric cooperative are quickly evolving, and Poudre Valley REA (PVREA) is embracing new technologies to serve our membership.

Solar generation technology has greatly improved in the past five years, providing more economically feasible options for electric utilities to invest in large scale renewable energy projects. We evaluate each renewable energy opportunity based upon three factors: reliability, economics and conservation of natural resources. Unless a renewable energy project balances all three of these important factors, it’s not a good fit or opportunity for the membership. 

PVREA has been involved in renewable energy for nearly a decade. The Cooperative has offered a net-metering rate and interconnection policy for ten years. This rate allows monthly excess power generated on the member side of the meter to be banked and used to offset future electric use.

Members are also given the opportunity to choose the purchase of energy generated from renewable sources directly through their electric bill with our Green Power Program. With this option, the average home can go with all renewable energy for just one additional dollar a month on its electric bill.

In recent years we have developed some large scale projects. In 2012, PVREA entered into a power purchase agreement with the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District to purchase 100 percent of the power generated from the 2.6 megawatt (mW) Carter Lake Hydropower facility, which generates enough electricity for 750 homes. In the same year, PVREA completed its first community solar farm, generating 203,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity a year.

Just this year, PVREA’s second community solar farm went live, which will generate more than 1.1 million kWh of electricity a year. Also in 2015, PVREA announced an 8-mW solar project that will generate enough power for over 1,300 households. PVREA initiated these renewable energy projects because it benefits the membership based upon reliability, economics and conservation of natural resources.

Our wholesale power provider’s, Tri-State Generation and Transmission (G&T), generation portfolio as of 2014 includes 24 percent of renewable energy from wind, solar generation and hydroelectric facilities. In working with Tri-State, PVREA researches and develops additional, local renewable energy projects to further diversify the resource base for members. These projects have not been inspired by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, nor state legislation for renewable energy requirements.

Through your Board of Directors direction, PVREA continues to research new technologies and business practices that maintains reliability, make economic sense for the membership and conserves natural resources. You can read more about our projects at www.pvrea.com.

Date Posted: 8/19/2015