06-14-19 Tri-State issues sixth renewable energy request for proposals

Tri-State issues sixth renewable energy request for proposals

  • Solicitation requests projects of 10 to 200 megawatts
  • Tri-State has increasing interest in owning solar projects
  • Previous solicitations have added 656 megawatts of wind and solar resources

(June 13, 2019 – Westminster, Colo.) Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association has issued its sixth request for proposals (RFP) for renewable energy resources. Tri-State is the not-for-profit cooperative power supplier to 43 member electric cooperatives and public power districts that serve rural communities in four states.

“Steady investment in renewables from Tri-State and our members means one of every three electrons consumed in our association comes from emissions-free renewable resources,” said Duane Highley, chief executive officer of Tri-State. “This RFP advances our drive to be a 21st century power supplier for our members that is increasingly flexible and clean.”

Previous Tri-State RFPs have resulted in power purchase contracts for 656 megawatts of utility-scale wind and solar resources. When renewable energy prices were higher, Tri-State took a measured approach to renewable acquisitions. As prices have decreased, Tri-State has accelerated the pace of its renewable additions. The association’s weighted average cost of all wind and solar power purchase agreements (PPA) is now less than half of what it was in 2009.

“Tri-State has a demonstrated record of successfully adding cost-effective and high-performing renewable resources,” said Brad Nebergall, senior vice president, energy management. “In our not-for-profit business model, we get the best pricing and value for our members when we work directly with numerous project developers to build and operate projects.”

The RFP for long-term PPAs allows Tri-State to identify low-cost projects while continuing to capture the federal tax benefits for wind and solar projects. As a not-for-profit cooperative, Tri-State utilized PPAs with developers to maximize tax benefits.

In this RFP, Tri-State will consider build-transfer proposals for solar projects where Tri-State would own and operate the project after investment tax credits have been captured. Tri-State is already the leading solar generation and transmission cooperative<https://www.electric.coop/wp-content/Renewables/solar.html> in the U.S. “With nearly 10 years of experience receiving power from utility-scale solar projects, we have an interest in owning and operating solar facilities,” said Nebergall.

In total, Tri-State and its members have enough renewable resources<https://www.tristate.coop/what-we-do> to power the equivalent needs of more than 570,000 rural homes. In addition to the association’s wind and solar projects, Tri-State has PPAs for 27 megawatts of small hydropower resources. Tri-State’s member systems have 139 megawatts of member renewable energy projects that are in place or under development. In 2018, Tri-State’s PPAs for wind, solar and small hydropower exceeded the association’s purchases of renewable hydropower from the Western Area Power Administration.

Earlier in 2019, Tri-State announced two new PPAs from a 2018 renewable energy RFP that saw developers bid more than 100 projects. The 100-megawatt Spanish Peaks Solar<https://www.tristate.coop/tri-state-and-juwi-announce-100-megawatt-spanish-peaks-solar-project> and the 104-megawatt Crossing Trails Wind<https://www.tristate.coop/tri-state-and-edp-renewables-announce-104-megawatt-crossing-trails-wind-farm> projects will increase Tri-State’s wind and solar resources by 45 percent.

Tri-State’s addition of renewable resources, as well as the availability of low-cost market power, has reduced the association’s use of coal. “With competitive electricity markets and our renewable energy contracts, Tri-State is dispatching coal resources less, has closed one coal unit and will retire two other coal units,” said Nebergall.

Tri-State has issued six renewable energy RFPs in the years 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2019. These RFPs resulted in the following projects:

Project                                                Size (Megawatts)        Year Commercial
Cimarron Solar (NM)                            30 MW                      2010
Kit Carson Wind (CO)                            51 MW                      2010
Colorado Highlands Wind (CO)              91 MW                      2012, expanded in 2013
Carousel Wind (CO)                            150 MW                    2016
San Isabel Solar (CO)                              30 MW                      2016
Alta Luna Solar (NM)                            25 MW                      2017
Twin Buttes II Wind (CO)                      75 MW                      2017
Crossing Trails Wind (CO)                  104 MW                    2020
Spanish Peaks Solar (CO)                    100 MW                    2023
The 2019 RFP seeks proposals of 10 MW to 200 MW with terms of 15 to 25 years, with a preference for projects within the service territories of its member systems. Tri-State expects to make decisions on any new projects by the end of 2019.
Tri-State is a not-for-profit association of 43 member electric cooperatives and public power districts in four states that together deliver reliable, affordable and responsible power to more than a million rural electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the west. For more information, visit tristate.coop<https://www.tristate.coop/>.

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