Yampa Valley Electric Association: We’ll leave the light on for you | CraigDailyPress.com

Yampa Valley Electric Association: We’ll leave the light on for you

With the flick of a switch, a glass bulb is beaming, but the energy within it that makes that modern miracle a possibility has a considerable journey before making it to your home.

Stretching across Moffat and Routt counties and even reaching into Wyoming is the cooperative Yampa Valley Electric Association, which is the next stop for the power produced by Hayden station. Though methods of providing power and levels of demand have changed greatly since the company's 1940 inception, the mission to keep the state alight remains the same.

The electricity generated begins at 69,000 volts fresh out of the plant and ready for transmission. In order to be usable for commercial purposes, the juice makes it way via conductors to one of 23 substations maintained by YVEA where the conversion through transformers puts the voltage at 7,200 or 14,400, depending on the size.

Each substation serves different portions of the customer base — which currently stands at 26,540 members, with 566,376 megawatts sold this year to date — and sends electricity across the land for use at smaller capacities, as low as 110 volts at the typical household outlet.

All power used by YVEA is provided by Xcel Energy, said Steve Johnson, cooperative vice president and chief operating officer, though portions of the electrical makeup have other sources, like wind and solar, other than that created at Hayden station.

With the debate over renewable energy greater than ever, the use of coal remains a priority in YVEA's operations, he added.

Recommended Stories For You

"Coal-fired electricity is the most reliable and the most economical ways of getting power that we have," he said.

The convenience of locally produced power created by fuel mined from within the region is a benefit, though the future may see some changes.

Johnson said the requirements mandated by Senate Bill 13-252, necessitating rural electric co-ops to obtain 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, aren't something the company can really argue with in the coming years.

The key will be exploring new forms of energy while still utilizing the sources available and keeping costs reasonable amid the fluctuation.

"We’re dealing with all those mandates as they come, and we’re being as prudent and fiscal as we can," he said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

By the numbers

Yampa Valley Electric Association

• First organized in 1940

• 26,540 current members

• 566,376 megawatts sold in 2014 to date

• 7,000 square mile service area in Moffat and Routt counties and parts of Carbon County, Wyoming

Source: YVEA