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Holy Cross Energy inks deal to develop 100-megawatt wind farm, offload coal plant

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January 8, 2019, 4:42 pm

Holy Cross Energy on Tuesday announced a two-way power purchase agreement with Denver-based energy wholesaler Guzman Energy to develop a 100-megawatt wind farm for its customers while Guzman takes the Holy Cross share of Pueblo’s Comanche 3 coal-fired power plant.

The deal will allow Holy Cross – the rural electric coop serving customers from Aspen to Vail – to achieve its recently announced seventy70thirty plan nine years earlier than anticipated.

“With today’s announcement HCE continues to lead the responsible transition to a clean energy future, while maintaining affordable and reliable electricity to our members,” Bryan Hannegan, president and CEO of HCE, said in a press release. “Our new partnership with Guzman Energy will raise the amount of renewable energy in our power supply mix to almost 70 percent by 2021 – nine years earlier than promised.”

Currently, Holy Cross customers get 53 percent of their power from burning coal, with 39 percent generated by renewable resources, 6 percent from natural gas and 2 percent from other market sources. The seventy30thirty plan calls for 70 percent renewables, such as wind, solar, hydroelectric and biomass, by 2030, along with a 70 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Guzman, which helped New Mexico’s Kit Carson Electric Association begin to reach its renewable goals in 2016, is also working with the Delta-Montrose Electric Association to break away from wholesaler Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which DMEA feels isn’t moving away from fossil fuels quickly enough.

Holy Cross, meanwhile, has been held up by Xcel Energy as an example of a progressive rural coop whose members want a quicker shift to renewables and away from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. Minnesota-based Xcel, Colorado’s largest supplier of electricity, recently announced its goal of being totally carbon-free by 2050.

In an interview with RealVail.com, Hannegan said customers such as Aspen Skiing Company and Vail Resorts, as well as the public at large, have requested the aggressive moves for environmental reasons.

“The community that we serve, we have a lot of interest in expanding the use of clean energy to support our economic development and our well-being here,” Hannegan told Real Vail Tuesday. “Our areas from the Eagle, Vail Valley through to the Roaring Fork Valley and other parts of the Western Slope obviously depend a lot on the quality of our environment.”

Hannegan says he’s looking for that momentum to keep building with a new legislature and newly inaugurated Gov. Jared Polis, who ran on a platform of 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.

“We like to think that we started the ball rolling [last summer with seventy70thirty], Xcel gave it a huge shove, Platte River [Power Authority, which recently committed to carbon-free by 2030] gave it another big shove, and I think the governor has a great opportunity to give it an even bigger shove with supportive state policies and programs that will make it easier to accelerate this transition,” Hannegan said.

Here’s today’s press release on the Guzman deal with Holy Cross Energy:

Holy Cross Energy Announces Renewable Swap Agreement with Guzman Energy

Agreement reduces the reliance on coal and adds incremental renewables to the grid without increasing cost

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — Tues., Jan. 8, 2019 — Holy Cross Energy (HCE), a nonprofit rural electric cooperative based in Western Colorado, announced today a renewable energy swap agreement with Colorado wholesale energy company Guzman Energy. This two‐way power purchase agreement (PPA) will enable the development of a new 100‐megawatt (MW) wind farm to serve HCE’s members. Once the new wind resources enter service in 2021, the PPA will fulfill HCE’s commitment to clean energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals as outlined in its seventy70thirty plan earlier this year.

“With today’s announcement HCE continues to lead the responsible transition to a clean energy future, while maintaining affordable and reliable electricity to our members,” said Bryan Hannegan, President and CEO of HCE. “Our new partnership with Guzman Energy will raise the amount of renewable energy in our power supply mix to almost 70 percent by 2021 – nine years earlier than promised. We are gratified that our agreement with Guzman Energy will also allow them to increase the amount of renewable energy in their power mix.”

Additionally, Guzman Energy will utilize, as necessary, HCE’s stake in Unit 3 of the Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo, Colo., a 750MW coal‐fired generating unit. This resource will supplement the 250MWs of renewable energy that will be built as part of Guzman’s recent renewable RFP, and all resources will be used to serve Guzman’s wholesale customers in New Mexico and Colorado and together will result in a capacity mix that is approximately 75 percent renewable.

“This deal allows HCE to meet their renewable energy goals without increasing cost, adds more renewables to the grid in the West, and supplements Guzman’s overall resource mix with reliable baseload, as needed,” said Jeff Heit, managing director with Guzman Energy. “It’s another example of what can be accomplished if stakeholders work together to find innovative ways to transition to the new energy economy.”

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David O. Williams

Managing Editor at RealVail
David O. Williams is an award-winning freelance reporter based in the Vail Valley of Colorado, writing on health care, immigration, politics, the environment, energy, public lands, outdoor recreation and sports. His work has appeared in 5280 Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines), the Anchorage Daily News (Alaska), Aspen Daily News, the Aspen Times, Beaver Creek Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Colorado Independent, Colorado Politics (formerly the Colorado Statesman), Colorado Public News, the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Colorado Independent (formerly Colorado Confidential), the Colorado Springs Independent, the Colorado Statesman (now Colorado Politics), the Daily Trail (Vail), the Denver Daily News, the Denver Post, the Durango Herald, the Eagle Valley Enterprise, the Eastside Journal (Bellevue, Washington), ESPN.com, the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent, the Greeley Tribune, the Huffington Post, the King County Journal (Seattle, Washington), KUNC.org (northern Colorado), LA Weekly, the London Daily Mirror, the Montgomery Journal (Maryland), The New York Times, the Parent’s Handbook, Peaks Magazine (now Epic Life), People Magazine, Powder Magazine, the Pueblo Chieftain, PT Magazine, Rocky Mountain Golf Magazine, the Rocky Mountain News, Atlantic Media's RouteFifty.com (formerly Government Executive State and Local), SKI Magazine, Ski Area Management, SKIING Magazine, the Summit Daily News, United Hemispheres (United Airlines), Vail/Beaver Creek Magazine, Vail en Español, Vail Valley Magazine, the Vail Daily, the Vail Trail and Westword (Denver). Williams is also the founder, publisher and editor of RealVail.com and RockyMountainPost.com.

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