Colorado Co-op Amps Up Solar Generation

Written By: Jen Neville
January 15, 2019

utility scale solar

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Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a generation and transmission cooperative for solar energy, will more than double its emissions-free renewable energy from the sun through a new project announced with Colorado-based juwi Inc.

The 100-megawatt Spanish Peaks Solar Project is Tri-State’s second utility-scale solar energy project with juwi, the U.S. subsidiary of Germany-based renewable energy company juwi AG. The project is adjacent to the 30-megawatt San Isabel Solar Project in Las Animas County, Colorado, which was developed by juwi and began producing power for Tri-State in 2016.

Tri-State, a wholesale cooperative power supplier owned by 43 member electric cooperatives and public power districts, will purchase the entire output of the project over the 15-year term of Tri-State’s power purchase contract. The 660-acre project includes more than 300,000 photovoltaic solar panels on single axis tracking arrays to follow the sun throughout the day and serves the energy needs of 28,000 rural homes.

This is Tri-State’s fourth utility-scale solar project and the first renewable energy purchase agreement announced by Tri-State following the issuance of its request for proposals for renewable energy supply in June last year.

“Tri-State secures renewable energy with the highest value at the lowest cost for our member cooperatives, and this is our largest, most cost-effective solar project to date,” stated Mike McInnes, Tri-State’s chief executive officer. “By developing renewable projects through Tri-State, our members take advantage of an economy of scale unavailable in smaller projects.”

“We’re pleased to once again collaborate with juwi on a project that benefits all of our members and further diversifies our power supply,” continued McInnes.

"juwi is proud to support the economically-savvy and environmentally-sound vision of Tri-State and will continue working with Tri-State and the people of Las Animas County to ensure the Spanish Peaks Solar Project delivers reliable solar energy for many years to come,” added Michael Martin, juwi’s chief executive officer.  “As a Colorado company, our team is particularly excited to develop, build and operate a power plant of this magnitude within our home state.”

The Spanish Peaks Solar Project is located approximately 20 miles north of Trinidad, Colorado, within the service territory of San Isabel Electric Association (SIEA), a Tri-State member system serving all or parts of seven counties in southern Colorado. Like Tri-State, SIEA is a not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperative.

“This project is just another significant step forward into the future not only for San Isabel Electric’s members but for electric co-ops across Colorado and the west,” San Isabel Electric Chief Executive Officer Reg Rudolph commented.

In addition to the Spanish Peaks and San Isabel solar projects, Tri-State also purchases the full output of the 30-megawatt Cimarron and 25-megawatt Alta Luna solar projects in New Mexico. According to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Tri-State is currently the largest solar generation and transmission cooperative in the nation. Nearly a third of the energy consumed by Tri-State’s members comes from emissions-free renewable energy.

Construction of the Spanish Peaks Solar Project is expected to begin in 2022, supporting 150 jobs during the peak construction period. The project is anticipated to be completed in 2023.

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