Holy Cross and the ‘Journey to 100%’

Electrical cooperative sees multiple paths to the summit of 100% thoroughly clean vitality by 2030

by Allen Best

Like its namesake mountain, Holy Cross Power sees multiple pathways to the major, 100% renewable strength, which it seeks to attain by 2030.

Implicit in the announcement by the Glenwood Springs-primarily based utility these days was recognition of the rapid acceleration of the electrical power transition as effectively as rising be concerned about the chance of the altering weather.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis credited Holy Cross with getting a state leader but also a national chief in executing the power changeover. Holy Cross has demonstrated that “you can do extra, greater, a lot quicker,” he said.

Polis ran for governor in 2018 on a system of achieving 100% renewable electricity in electrical technology by 2040. “My tips had been daring, but they weren’t daring plenty of,” he claimed.

Transform has accelerated in just the very last two years. Holy Cross in September 2018 adopted a goal of 70% renewable era by 2030 with 70% reduction in greenhouse gases as in comparison to 2014 levels.

In 2018, a few months immediately after administrators of Holy Cross set the 2030 aim, directors of Platte River Power Authority set a goal of 100% carbon-totally free strength by 2030. However, that Fort Collins-centered cooperative hooked up a set of circumstances in get to attain that objective, such as matured battery storage technologies and declined prices and creation of a regional transmission business.

Neither Platte River–which provides electrical power to Fort Collins, Longmont, Estes Park, and Loveland—nor Holy Cross are anywhere in close proximity to their aims but. Platte River expects to shift previously mentioned 50% with addition of a new photo voltaic farm later this year.

Holy Cross as of past yr was nevertheless under 40%. But it will very likely blow previous its 70% renewable intention by the conclusion of 2021, just about a ten years early, although marching towards 80% to 85% renewables penetration by the finish of 2024.

In an announcement on Monday of its purpose, which is branded as Journey to 100%, Holy Cross pointed out no set of conditions. In a comply with-up e-mail, Bryan Hannegan, the main govt of Holy Cross, explained multiple pathways for the utility to obtain its target.

“Based on our latest analysis and innovation attempts, HCE thinks that there are multiple pathways we can take on our Journey to 100%, which include by way of the growth of strong and open up wholesale marketplaces for electrical power and the regional transmission grid coordination to assistance them, as effectively as via development of community versatile cleanse electricity methods specifically linked to our distribution grid,” Hannegan wrote.

Bryan Hannegan

“We are fully commited to obtaining the very best probable route to our strategic ambitions that preserves and extends our capacity to properly provide reputable and inexpensive electric company even as we shift in direction of a carbon-free of charge power provide.”

At the heart of the vision is greater deployment of new community strength assets as perfectly as a wide variety of new courses and systems that far better allow need to accurate instantly with the variability of renewable materials.

For a fuller clarification, see final week’s story, How Holy Cross Electrical power intends to deepen penetration of renewables.

Some of this will get extremely complex. For instance, Holy Cross has partnered with Camus Electricity to create a distribution grid operating system that will assistance the co-op’s customers/customers understand the quite a few values of dispersed strength sources, such as rooftop solar or “behind-the-meter” batteries for vitality storage.

“We believe that dispersed vitality assets will be a key aspect of our Journey to 100%,” reported Hannegan.

Yet another very important phase ahead will require integration of Holy Cross and other Colorado utilities into a regional transmission group, or RTO. Colorado utilities have so significantly advanced towards producing an RTO with the rubbery legs of a 6-month-previous youngster. Holy Cross in live performance with a different electrical cooperative, Intermountain Rural Electric Association, commissioned a analyze by Boulder-centered Vibrant Clean up Power to doc the gains. That examine concluded Colorado would be far better served by integration into the California-primarily based RTO identified as CAISO.

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Expanded power storage will also be essential. Holy Cross has introduced a software to start installation of batteries into properties, which can greater just take edge of domestically produced energy even though creating resilience in the scenario of transmission disruption these as wildfires. It’s portion of generating “more flexible” vitality demand. The batteries of electric powered automobiles will also probably perform a role in this new a lot more dispersed electricity paradigm.

The utility is also thinking more substantial with grid-tied methods, like pumped-storage hydroelectricity. Pumped-hydro was conspicuously stated in the Holy Cross press launch, and it is also pointed out in the  strategic plan adopted by directors. Colorado’s large power storage venture even now is the Cabin Creek pumped-storage hydro project, which works by using two reservoirs together the highway amongst Georgetown and Guanella Go. The h2o is launched when essential to meet peak calls for of Xcel Electrical power, this kind of as on scorching summer time afternoons, then pumped back uphill when electricity is abundant.

Holy Cross has not shared information of its considering, but it of course has giant amounts of vertical to perform with in its services territory.

“We are exploring likely options with regard to pumped-storage hydro in our region.  As we go to 100% cleanse power, there will be a require for the varieties of grid products and services and balancing capabilities that pumped-storage hydro and other very long-period vitality storage systems can give,” Hannegan explained in an e-mail response.

In decarbonizing its electrical source, Holy Cross has avoided elevating fees all through the very last 3 yrs and plans no fee maximize during the next calendar year, stated Dave Munk, chair of the board of directors of Holy Cross.

Nonetheless unanswered is what Holy Cross will do with its 8% possession stake in Comanche 3, the coal-fired electric power plant close to Pueblo. Holy Cross consigned the energy output from the energy plant to Guzman Strength a 12 months ago. The plant, having said that, has produced little power due to the fact then, as it has been plagued by debilitating issues, a topic considering that it commenced functions in 2010. The Colorado General public Utilities Commission before this year made a decision that it was a truthful dilemma regardless of whether the energy plant may greatest be shut a long time ahead of its at first scheduled retirement in 2070. Xcel Energy is the principal owner.

Holy Cross is having to pay for that plant, with payments currently scheduled to continue until 2042, according to the electrical cooperative’s strategic plan.

In a “travel guide” released in conjunction with the “Journey to 100%” announcement, Holy Cross mentioned that it has a number of “unique attributes that allow us to consider these daring ways.” It has potent relationships with its vacation resort and agriculture communities who depend on a healthy setting. It also enjoys strong aid from in its clear electricity ambitions from the big employers—including Aspen Snowboarding Co. and Vail Resorts—along with member communities who have adopted weather motion programs.

It also has lawful wiggle place. “Our energy offer and transmission agreements give us further cleanse strength possibilities that may well not be readily available to other utilities.”

See also video announcement posted on YouTube,


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