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Microgrid in Fort Lupton, solar plus storage near Durango More money likely coming to aid the energy transition 


Federal aid from the two big climate-related energy bills of the Biden presidency have reached local cooperatives in Colorado —and more may be coming.

United Power will get $6.1 million to create a microgrid in Fort Lupton. The goal is to increase the reliability of the city’s municipal water treatment plant. A floating photovoltaic array coupled with battery storage will replace an aging diesel generator.

Chris Cross, the city administrator, said the project is expected to increase power redundancy while reducing monthly electricity by 9%.

United and Fort Lupton will be working with Schneider Electric North America. ”This project captures our drive to revolutionize the energy landscape,” said Jana Gerberg, who is president of Schneider’s microgrid division.

The federal money came from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 as part of the Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas program.

And more such announcements may be coming. Mark Gabriel, the chief executive of United Power, said that United continues to pursue federal grants to support the cooperative’s work.

main street in durango

Diurango-based La Plata Electric ASsociaton is geting $13.4 million through the Inflation Reduction Act for a solar plus storage project. Top, the Sunnyside solar project.

Durango-based La Plata Electric is also getting federal aid, but its $13.4 million is coming from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. It was just one of four applicants from across the nation for this particular program that is being administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

La Plata will use the money to support construction of 5 megawatts of solar generation and a 5MW/20MW battery.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports a large number of applications for clean energy and conservation programs received by Congress through the Inflation Reduction Act.

They are:

  • Rural Energy for America Program, 54 proposals for a total of $16.1 million.
  • Power Affordable Clean Energy Program had 13 projects in Colorado with total requests of $449 million.
  • And the New ERA (Empowering Rural America) program had $2.05 billion in proposals for 62 different projects. Congress made $9.7 billion available to rural electric cooperatives across the natio through this program. The Rural Utilities Services has received requests for more than $47 billion through this program, or nearly five times the available money.

In September 2023, Colorado utilities received news they would receive $17.2 million in federal funds to be used for microgrids and other strategies to ensure the lights stay on.

See “Helping utilities prepare for wackier weather,” Big Pivots, Sept. 28, 2023.

Other federal programs have also drawn a great deal of interest in Colorado, especially the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. This is described as the flagship conservation program that helps landowners integrate conservation into working lands.

Allen Best
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