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United Power joins Southwest Power Pool

United Power has joined the Southwest Power Pool in preparation for when it ceases to be a member of Tri-State Generation and Transmission —United believes by May 2024.

The electrical cooperative has 105,000 members in a broad arc north of metro Denver from the foothills near Nederland to the oil fields of Weld County.

“Since United Power is leaving our current wholesale power supplier in 2024, it is important that we seek out memberships and partnerships that will help us assure a reliable power source at the lowest cost possible,” said Mark A. Gabriel, the president and chief executive of United in a press release. He said membership in the Arkansas-based Southwest Power Pool is “one of the critical pieces we wanted in place as we move toward a new energy future for our members.”

SPP aggregates generation resources, dispatching the power where it is needed. Members have an active role in determining where new transmission is built and will be able to have their interests represented directly. This, however, is the first distribution cooperative in the Western grid to be a member.

“Membership matters. Our membership in SPP means we will have a meaningful say in the strategic direction of the organization,” said Gabriel. “Members have an active role in determining how this new energy market develops and how the organization grows. We will be able to directly represent the interests of all United Power members.”

SPP has created an energy imbalance market that has drawn membership from a variety of utilities in Colorado as well as the Western Area Power Authority and utilities in Wyoming and in Utah.

Still a distinct possibility, however, is that other Colorado utilities may align with a different regional transmission organization, the California Independent System Operator, or CAISO – provided that organizations gains some independence from California legislators.


Solar trade group cites Morgan County for its adoption of codes

Like most trade groups, Colorado Solar and Storage hands out awards to those useful to its cause.

For example, this year’s awards go out to the two U.S. senators, Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, for lobbying to prevent the tariff on imported solar panels, and to the Laborer’s International Union for its “dedication to workforce development and collaboration with COSSA to align labor and solar.”

Also getting an award this year will be the Morgan County commissioners, who adopted new zoning amendments that govern placement of solar projects in the agricultural lands that dominate Morgan County. Continuing a theme from last year, the award also calls out Nicole Hay, a county planner, “for her collaboration with industry to identify best practices when crafting the new” land use codes.

Hay, a former surveyor, says she arrived into her position after the process had been started. “They knew renewable energy was coming, and we needed to get something in our code” to govern placement. Morgan County consulted work done previously in Kit Carson, Logan, Weld, and Pueblo counties and drew from that work elements that seemed to make the most sense for Morgan County.

There was no opposition, she says, although that could well surface once an active proposal is submitted. So far, solar companies have inquired many times, but none have submitted projects.


Ryland French joins staff of Aspen-based CORE

Ryland French has joined the Community Office for Resource Efficiency to fill CORE’s new position of senior director of regional climate strategy.

“The communities are saying we need to do more, we want to have a bigger impact, and we need it faster,” said French.

He will coordinate plans across jurisdictions to amplify their impact. He previously had been with the City of Aspen and, most recently, the Aspen Skiing Co., where he designed and managed projects, including the Aspen Energy Challenge and the employee housing Hub at Willits. The latter has no natural gas.


New transmission authority slow to get off the ground

In 2021, Colorado legislators established a new state agency, the Colorado Electric Transmission Authority, or CETA, with broad powers to fill in the gaps of Colorado’s transmission system as it switches from fossil fuels to renewables.

The new authority has been slow to get off the ground. And the first meeting, held on July 8, was suspended after 15 minutes because only 5 of the 9 members had joined the Zoom conference.

The immediate task will be to secure a website developer and general counsel, both duties to be delegated to the chair. Having a quorum, that choice could have been made. But members agreed to postpone that decision with the expectation that another meeting, to be held in late July, will be better attended.

Allen Best
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