Ever changing energy world impacts Yampa Valley Electric Association and its members
For The Craig Press
Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Yampa Valley Electric Association
Since forming in 2015, Yampa Valley Electric Association (YVEA) and the nonprofit Operation Round Up have been improving lives and communities thanks to YVEA members who round up their bill to the next dollar through Operation Round Up. The pennies members donate each month average only $6 a year per member but have contributed more than $300,000 to nonprofit organizations in the YVEA service territory.
Those Operation Round Up donations have helped organizations such as Lift Up, Boys and Girls Club, Love, Inc., Yampatika, United Way, The Haven, Baggs Fire & Rescue and many more. However, for whatever reason, more than 9,000 YVEA accounts have opted not to participate in Operation Round Up. Were those 9,000 accounts to participate at an average of $6 per year, $50,000 more dollars could be contributed each year to worthy organizations.
“By combining their pennies, our YVEA members have been able to be true difference makers in their communities,” said Jim Jennings, YVEA supervisor of Member Outreach. “We encourage those members who are not participating in Operation Round Up to consider joining the program and their friends and neighbors in making a difference.”
As the region’s electric distributor, Yampa Valley Electric Association (YVEA) is responsible for providing power to more than 18,000 members in an area covering 7,000 miles in northwest Colorado and southern Wyoming.
The electricity that YVEA distributes to the homes, businesses, churches and streetlights of its members primarily comes from Xcel Energy, whose energy sources include a diverse mix of coal, nuclear, natural gas, wind, solar and other renewable sources. These diverse resources have allowed YVEA to provide electricity safely at some of the lowest rates in Colorado and the United States.
That diverse mix of energy is quickly changing as the state of Colorado seeks to lower carbon emissions through increasing the use of renewable energy sources.
Effects of new legislation
In the recently completed 2019 legislative session, many important pieces of legislation were introduced, often with little to no time for input from organizations, such as YVEA, that would be directly affected by the new requirements.
This was certainly true in the case of HB 19-1261, a bill that requires the reduction of carbon emissions from all sectors of Colorado, including the 22 electric distribution cooperatives at the end of a power supply chain that includes many power plants and transmission lines owned by numerous companies. The requirements of this legislation will impact YVEA and other rural electricity ratepayers for many years.
“What we learned with the last legislative session is that YVEA and other Colorado cooperatives need to have a larger voice with our state legislators,” said Steve Johnson, president and general manager of YVEA. “The unfortunate reality is that as we push toward more renewable resources, we need to understand the realities of what is going to happen to the communities that support our coal mines and power plants and what can be accomplished with the timelines that legislation has set forth. Some of these expectations are not realistic.”
Speaking up for cooperatives
While Johnson is supportive of clean energy resources, he is concerned that the approved legislation does not consider the important differences between the investor-owned electric utilities and electric cooperatives like YVEA.
Electric cooperatives such as YVEA continue to play a vital role in powering Colorado. Cooperatives across the state power 1.5 million consumers in the state of Colorado, generating more than $38 million in ad valorem taxes annually. It is more important now than ever that every cooperative member provides their voice and vote for their future.