Holy Cross and the ‘Journey to 100%’

Electrical cooperative sees several paths to the summit of 100% clean up power by 2030

by Allen Finest

Like its namesake mountain, Holy Cross Energy sees multiple pathways to the top, 100% renewable power, which it seeks to obtain by 2030.

Implicit in the announcement by the Glenwood Springs-based utility these days was recognition of the immediate acceleration of the electrical power transition as effectively as escalating stress about the possibility of the changing local climate.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis credited Holy Cross with remaining a point out chief but also a nationwide chief in executing the electrical power transition. Holy Cross has revealed that “you can do a lot more, far better, a lot quicker,” he said.

Polis ran for governor in 2018 on a system of achieving 100% renewable power in electrical generation by 2040. “My strategies had been bold, but they weren’t bold ample,” he claimed.

Change has accelerated in just the past two years. Holy Cross in September 2018 adopted a goal of 70% renewable era by 2030 with 70% reduction in greenhouse gases as compared to 2014 ranges.

In 2018, a few months following administrators of Holy Cross established the 2030 intention, administrators of Platte River Energy Authority set a purpose of 100% carbon-free power by 2030. However, that Fort Collins-dependent cooperative connected a set of situations in buy to attain that goal, this sort of as matured battery storage engineering and declined selling prices and development of a regional transmission firm.

Neither Platte River–which provides electricity to Fort Collins, Longmont, Estes Park, and Loveland—nor Holy Cross are any where near their targets but. Platte River expects to go previously mentioned 50% with addition of a new solar farm afterwards this yr.

Holy Cross as of past year was still beneath 40%. But it will very likely blow past its 70% renewable goal by the close of 2021, almost a decade early, even though marching toward 80% to 85% renewables penetration by the finish of 2024.

In an announcement on Monday of its objective, which is branded as Journey to 100%, Holy Cross pointed out no set of problems. In a follow-up e-mail, Bryan Hannegan, the chief executive of Holy Cross, explained a number of pathways for the utility to accomplish its objective.

“Based on our current study and innovation initiatives, HCE thinks that there are various pathways we can choose on our Journey to 100%, including by the advancement of robust and open up wholesale marketplaces for electrical energy and the regional transmission grid coordination to assistance them, as nicely as via progress of nearby versatile clean up strength resources specifically linked to our distribution grid,” Hannegan wrote.

Bryan Hannegan

“We are fully commited to getting the most effective probable route to our strategic aims that preserves and extends our capability to safely provide reliable and reasonably priced electric powered company even as we transfer toward a carbon-free electricity source.”

At the heart of the eyesight is increased deployment of new regional power assets as nicely as a variety of new systems and systems that far better enable demand to correct directly with the variability of renewable materials.

For a fuller rationalization, see previous week’s story, How Holy Cross Power intends to deepen penetration of renewables.

Some of this gets quite technical. For example, Holy Cross has partnered with Camus Electrical power to build a distribution grid operating technique that will support the co-op’s users/buyers realize the several values of distributed strength resources, this sort of as rooftop solar or “behind-the-meter” batteries for energy storage.

“We believe that dispersed vitality resources will be a essential ingredient of our Journey to 100%,” stated Hannegan.

Yet another important step ahead will call for integration of Holy Cross and other Colorado utilities into a regional transmission group, or RTO. Colorado utilities have so much state-of-the-art towards producing an RTO with the rubbery legs of a 6-thirty day period-previous child. Holy Cross in live performance with another electrical cooperative, Intermountain Rural Electric powered Affiliation, commissioned a research by Boulder-dependent Lively Thoroughly clean Strength to doc the rewards. That research concluded Colorado would be better served by integration into the California-centered RTO termed CAISO.

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Expanded electrical power storage will also be essential. Holy Cross has introduced a method to commence set up of batteries into households, which can far better choose edge of domestically created electricity although making resilience in the scenario of transmission disruption these types of as wildfires. It’s portion of producing “more flexible” strength demand from customers. The batteries of electric powered motor vehicles will also most likely perform a job in this new much more distributed vitality paradigm.

The utility is also wondering even bigger with grid-tied resources, which includes pumped-storage hydroelectricity. Pumped-hydro was conspicuously mentioned in the Holy Cross press launch, and it is also described in the  strategic approach adopted by administrators. Colorado’s massive strength storage job even now is the Cabin Creek pumped-storage hydro job, which makes use of two reservoirs along the road between Georgetown and Guanella Move. The drinking water is released when required to satisfy peak requires of Xcel Power, this sort of as on scorching summertime afternoons, then pumped back uphill when electric power is plentiful.

Holy Cross has not shared specifics of its imagining, but it definitely has large quantities of vertical to operate with in its service territory.

“We are exploring likely solutions with respect to pumped-storage hydro in our location.  As we shift in direction of 100% thoroughly clean energy, there will be a require for the sorts of grid services and balancing abilities that pumped-storage hydro and other very long-period electrical power storage technologies can offer,” Hannegan explained in an e-mail response.

In decarbonizing its electrical supply, Holy Cross has avoided raising charges all through the last a few years and programs no rate improve all through the subsequent yr, said Dave Munk, chair of the board of administrators of Holy Cross.

Even now unanswered is what Holy Cross will do with its 8% ownership stake in Comanche 3, the coal-fired energy plant near Pueblo. Holy Cross consigned the energy production from the electrical power plant to Guzman Power a year back. The plant, having said that, has produced small ability considering that then, as it has been plagued by debilitating troubles, a concept considering the fact that it began operations in 2010. The Colorado Community Utilities Commission before this year determined that it was a fair dilemma no matter whether the electrical power plant could ideal be shut decades in advance of its originally scheduled retirement in 2070. Xcel Electrical power is the primary operator.

Holy Cross is spending for that plant, with payments presently scheduled to keep on till 2042, in accordance to the electrical cooperative’s strategic approach.

In a “travel guide” introduced in conjunction with the “Journey to 100%” announcement, Holy Cross observed that it has various “unique features that permit us to just take these bold methods.” It has powerful relationships with its resort and agriculture communities who count on a healthier setting. It also enjoys powerful guidance from in its clean up vitality targets from the big employers—including Aspen Snowboarding Co. and Vail Resorts—along with member communities who have adopted weather action ideas.

It also has legal wiggle home. “Our electrical power source and transmission agreements give us more thoroughly clean strength solutions that might not be accessible to other utilities.”

See also video clip announcement posted on YouTube,


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