Get Big Pivots

Delta-Montrose Electric getting a big boost from Department of Agriculture program. Poudre Valley REA getting an assist, too. 


Two Colorado electrical cooperatives have been awarded federal funding that will enable them to add solar but also storage.

The award was welcomed by Mike Kruger, the chief executive of Colorado Solar and Storage Association. “We are so deficient on storage in Colorado,” he said after attending the announcement in Fort Collins.

Delta-Montrose Electric Association plans to create a 20-megawatt solar photovoltaic array coupled with 80 megawatt-hours of battery storage. This output and storage will satisfy about 10% of the overall annual demand of customers of Delta-Montrose. The total cost will be $96 million.

To make this project work, Delta-Montrose is getting a $72 million loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) program. Of that 40% is forgiven. In other words, the electrical cooperative is getting $28.8 million in a grant through the federal program. The coop plans to seek further federal aid through the Inflation Reduction Act.

Delta-Montrose already has an 80-megawatt agrivoltaics array in development on Garnet Mesa, located east of Delta.

In announcing the grant, Jack Johnston, the chief executive, emphasized the local generation, “bypassing the reliance on distant power plants and extensive transmission lines.”

Fort Collins-based Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association also got a $9 million loan from the federal government’s PACE program. It will be partially forgiven on terms parallel to those of the Delta-Montrose grant.

Poudre Valley will use the money to help fund a 1.5-megawatt utility-scale solar project located on 10 acres near Black Hollow Reservoir northeast of Fort Collins and a 2-megawatt community solar array located on 14 acres in the western part of Greeley.

Both projects will be coupled with battery storage, allowing Poudre Valley to draw on that storage to meet peak demands and when electricity from other sources comes at the highest cost.

Poudre Valley REA says the total project cost is about $12.6 million. The PACE program and other federal assistance will result in a $6 million decrease in the total cost, according to Jeff Wadsworth, the CEO of Poudre Valley.

The electrical cooperative has seven utility-scale renewable projects totaling more than 20 megawatts on its distribution grid.

In remarks at the event in Fort Collins, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, shown in photo above, tied the transition to renewable energy to bolstered economic vitality in rural communities.

“The projects we’re announcing today will create good-paying jobs, lower energy costs for consumers, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen the resiliency of our nation’s electric grid,” he said.

Vilsack talked how about carbon sequestration as well as lower-impact farming and ranching, such as by reduced use of fertilizers, can benefit both goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping the bottom lines of agriculture operators.

Allen Best
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