Tri-State expands opportunity for community solar, evaluates partial requirements contract options |

Tri-State expands opportunity for community solar, evaluates partial requirements contract options

Sunrise at Tri-State’s Craig Generating Station, located southeast of downtown.
Photo courtesy of Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association

Thanks to a new program recommended by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, rural electricity consumers will have expanded opportunities to participate in a new community solar project, which was approved by the cooperative’s board of directors at their November meeting.

The community solar program supports member-owned or controlled solar photovoltaic systems, which are marketed to cooperative retail consumer-members under subscription arrangements, according to a press release from Tri-State.

“We’re looking to provide out members with opportunities for renewable energy,” Tri-State Public Relations Specialist Mark Stutz said. “If a member wants to add renewables, they can go ahead and make applications to add local projects. The new program is capped, but it’s 2 percent of their 2018 sales.

“If every members participates, it could add to 63 megawatts to our system. It’s all about flexibility,” Stutz added.

Consumers can participate in community solar projects and gain the benefits of clean energy and lower power costs, regardless of the orientation or location of their home.

“Our members are working together to create more flexibility for local renewable power generation,” Tri-State CEO Duane Highley said. “Expanding opportunities for co-op members to participate in community solar is another step toward that goal.”

Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association (PVREA) presented and advanced the community solar proposal through the membership’s Contract Committee. The northern Colorado distribution cooperative has three community solar projects for its consumer-members.

“Community solar provides every co-op consumer-member with the opportunity to go solar, and now more consumers will have the option to benefit from clean, low-cost solar power,” said Jeff Wadsworth, CEO of PVREA and a member of Tri-State’s Contract Committee.

Along with the new solar project, Tri-State’s Contract Committee continues to review options to allow members with more flexibility for power supply, including partial requirements contracts and additional local renewable energy, after United Power and La Plata Electric asked the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to set reasonable fees for them to exit Tri-State in the near future.

“Tri-State’s board of directors acted quickly to address our members’ desire to support community solar, and our membership continues its work to evaluate proposals for further flexibility through partial requirements contract options,” said Rick Gordon, Tri-State board chairman and Mountain View Electric Association director.

Solar generation under the program will not be included in the 5% self-supply provisions agreed to by members in their wholesale power contracts with Tri-State, according to the press release.

Currently, approximately 31 percent of the electricity consumed by Tri-State’s members comes from renewable resources. With the addition of two recently announced projects, Tri-State’s wind and solar resources will be increasing by an additional 45 percent. This increase in renewable generation allows Tri-State to serve the equivalent of more than a half a million rural homes with renewable resources.

Tri-State will further increase that amount from its sixth renewable energy request for proposals, which was released in June 2019.

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