The contract between Coal Creek Hydro and Tri-State ended Sept. 30. All parties agreed it just made sense to eliminate the middleman and set up a power purchase agreement directly between SMPA and Coal Creek Hydro.
“Coal Creek Hydro was a fairly small electricity producer for Tri-State when compared to their total load,” said SMPA General Manager Kevin Ritter. “It was more natural and beneficial to our members for SMPA to step in and set up a purchasing contract with Coal Creek Hydro. It’s a great example of local renewable power production by our members, for our members.”
Coal Creek Hydro began production in 2000, putting locally generated renewable energy onto the grid for SMPA members for the past nine years. It is a privately owned hydro-electricity plant just north of Ouray. Telluride residents, Shawna and Trevor LaBorde own and operate the plant.
“We are pleased to provide power directly to our local co-op and community members,” said Shawna.
Since start up, Coal Creek Hydro has averaged a production of 340,000-kilowatt hours per year, but has peaked at 550,000 kilowatt hours in the past. Factors surrounding the intake valve play a role in production. Recent upgrades to the intake system are expected to boost production. It is estimated that the power received from Coal Creek will make up about 0.169 percent of SMPA’s yearly load.
The contract between SMPA and Coal Creek Hydro designates SMPA as the primary power purchaser for the next 10 years. Additionally, SMPA has signed a 10-year agreement with Tri-State which allows SMPA to purchase locally generated renewable electricity under their Policy 115. This policy authorizes SMPA to purchase up to 5 percent of their electricity from local renewable sources.
SMPA will receive possession of all the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) produced by the Coal Creek facility. SMPA will apply the RECs to their Colorado Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirements. The RPS for all Colorado cooperatives requires the utilities to provide a specific percentage of renewable energy and/or recycled energy to members according to the following timeline:
• 1 percent of its retail electricity sales in Colorado for the years 2009-2011;
• 3 perent of its retail electricity sales in Colorado for the years 2012-2015;
• 6 percent of its retail electricity sales in Colorado for the years 2016-2020; and
• 10 percent of its retail electricity sales in Colorado for the year 2021 and each following year.
SMPA serves approximately 9,600 members and 13,000 meters and supports local communities with $200,000 annually in property taxes.