Putting the Power of Renewable Resources to Work
The sun shines brightly in the West, the wind blows swiftly across the plains and water flows freely throughout the Rocky Mountains. Tri-State is committed to harnessing these renewable sources of energy and incorporating them into its resource planning activities to bring further value to the member cooperatives across the four states it serves.
Providing wholesale electric power to its membership from renewable energy is not a new concept for Tri-State. The association was formed in the 1950s to administer consolidated contracts that its member co-ops held with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for energy produced at federally operated hydroelectric power plants.
Today, not only does Tri-State continue to be one of the region's principal buyers of federal hydropower, but it is also participating in one of the country’s largest solar power projects. Along with First Solar, Tri-State has developed the Cimarron Solar Facility in northeastern New Mexico. The 500,000 photovoltaic panel facility can generate 30 megawatts of electricity – enough power to serve the needs of 9,000 homes. Atlanta-based Southern Company is the owner and operator of the project.
Tri-State has signed a power purchase agreement with Duke Energy to acquire all the electricity generated at a wind farm in east-central Colorado. Now fully operational, the Kit Carson Windpower Project, named for the county in which it is sited, consists of 34 1.5-megawatt G.E. turbines and generates 51 megawatts of electricity - enough power to serve the needs of 12,000 to 14,000 homes.
In addition, Tri-State signed a 20-year power purchase agreement to buy all of the output from the 91-megawatt Colorado Highlands Wind project in northeastern Colorado. The 6,640-acre site, which is owned and operated by Colorado Highlands Wind, LLC, is located about 25 miles northeast of Sterling, Colo., where it receives station electric service from Tri-State member Highline Electric Association.
As a number of states move toward instituting Renewable Portfolio Standards, Tri-State will continue to add renewable power to its portfolio to further diversify its energy resources and to meet government requirements on behalf of its member co-ops. Transmission also will continue to be a key focus of the G&T to ensure the new energy can be delivered to market.
Members' local renewable program
In an effort to encourage the proliferation of local and community-based renewable energy projects, Tri-State launched its Member Local Renewable Project Policy (117) and program in 2008. This renewable incentive program is aimed at providing members with financial assistance from Tri-State for the development of local renewable energy projects that qualify in meeting Renewable Portfolio Standards that have been established in Colorado and New Mexico.
Under the program, Tri-State’s financial support of the local renewable project takes the form of performance payments based on the output of the project or attributes generated by the project for which the member can claim ownership.
Green Power Program
Since 1998, Tri-State has provided the opportunity for consumers of its 44 member cooperatives to participate in the Green Power Program. As a power provider, Tri-State offers renewable resource energy to end-use consumers through a voluntary sign-up program with its member cooperatives, in addition to buying renewable resources for its own energy mix.
Tri-State fulfills these subscriptions from purchases on the open market through a system of green tags that are derived from energy produced by wind, solar, small hydroelectric and biomass projects.
Since the program’s inception, Tri-State charged a nominal monthly premium on every 100 kilowatt-hour blocks per month of green power. Beginning in 2008, the premium was greatly reduced to begin tracking actual renewable energy credits market conditions. This voluntary program will continue for those who wish to purchase power generated from renewable sources.
By contacting their local co-op, homeowners and businesses can buy green power at an additional, minimal monthly fee and support the continued development of renewable energy resources.
Updated: October 4, 2013