Tri-State community solar program advances additional member flexibility
- Tri-State files community solar program with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
- Program developed by Tri-State members to expand community solar opportunities.
- Gunnison County Electric Association first member to utilize additional flexibility.
(October 21, 2020 – Westminster, Colo.) – Members of not-for-profit interstate power supplier Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association will soon have expanded opportunities to pursue community solar projects through a new program developed by Tri-State’s members. Consumer-members of Gunnison County Electric Association in western Colorado stand ready to benefit from the new option.
Community solar projects are marketed to retail consumers under subscription arrangements. Tri-State’s community solar program was developed by the cooperative’s utility members in 2019 to provide additional flexibility for member community solar projects, in addition to the 5% self-supply provisions in their existing wholesale power contracts and a new partial requirements contract option to self-supply up to 50% of member’s power needs.
As a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulated utility, Tri-State is required to file its community solar program for acceptance and approval from FERC. Under FERC’s rate regulation of Tri-State, each member across four states can participate in the federal regulator’s review of Tri-State’s tariffs, contracts and policies, including the policy that implements the community solar program.
Colorado-based Gunnison County Electric Association (GCEA) is the first Tri-State members to take advantage of the flexibility offered by the new program. With FERC approval of the program, the distribution cooperative will move forward with a 101-kilowatt community solar project in the town of Gunnison, Colo. GCEA already is taking consumer reservations for the project.
“With the great interest in this option, consumers have already reserved 80% of the capacity to be made available in our first community solar project under this new program. In addition, we’ve started planning for our next project, and already have a waiting list for monthly subscriptions in that project,” said Mike McBride, CEO of Gunnison County Electric Association.
“Our co-op values the flexibility with Tri-State to develop both community solar options for consumers, as well local renewable energy projects to serve all of our consumers. We also benefit from Tri-State’s substantial and growing renewable energy portfolio,” McBride said. “Our goal is to fully utilize the 7% of flexible self-supply available under our current contract which, with Tri-State’s renewables, will result in more than 50% renewable energy for our members and lower wholesale power costs by 2024.”
Earlier this month, Tri-State’s board of directors announced a goal to reduce its wholesale rates to members 8% by the end of 2023.
“We continue to implement important components of our Responsible Energy Plan, providing more options for our members to develop local renewable resources, lowering our emissions and increasing clean energy, all while reducing our rates to our members,” said Duane Highley, CEO for Tri-State.
Tri-State’s utility members can develop community solar projects totaling up to 4,600,000 kilowatt-hours, or 2% of their purchases from Tri-State, whichever is lower. The community solar program is in addition to the 5% local renewable energy provision and is separate from Tri-State’s flexible partial requirements contract option. Under the partial requirements option, utility members of Tri-State will be able to express their intent to transition to a partial requirements contract by participating in an open season period to allocate an aggregate 300 megawatts of system-wide member self-supply capacity.
Tri-State is a not-for-profit cooperative of 45 members, including 42 utility electric distribution cooperative and public power district members in four states, that together deliver reliable, affordable and responsible power to more than a million electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the West. For more information about Tri-State an, visit www.tristate.coop.