Category Archives: CEA News

Rural Colorado Leads the Charge for Energy Freedom

On June 25th the Denver Post reported on a huge victory for energy freedom and rural renewable power on the Western Slope of Colorado. We’ll explain what happened – and why is it so exciting.

Delta-Montrose Electric Association (Delta-Montrose), a rural electric co-operative serving 35,000 customers, sought to purchase cheap, reliable and renewable power from a small hydroelectric dam on an irrigation canal in Montrose.  That seems simple enough – provide your customers with affordable, clean power that’s right in your backyard – why not? What was standing in Delta-Montrose’s way?

Seems simple enough – provide your customers with affordable, clean power that’s right in your backyard – why not?

What stood in Delta-Montrose’s way was a contract with its wholesale power supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmissionrestricting their freedom to access clean energy. Delta-Montrose buys power from the large utility Tri-State and then sells that power to its members. Tri-State’s contract confined Delta-Montrose, and the 44 other rural electric co-ops it serves, to buying  95% of their electricity from Tri-State. Even if affordable renewables were available literally right next door, these rural electric utilities couldn’t buy them.

What stood in Delta-Montrose’s way was a contract with its electric power supplier restricting their freedom to access clean energy.

So Delta-Montrose took Tri-State to court – administrative court: the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Delta-Montrose argued that federal law, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), allowed – even compelled – them  to purchase power from the dam. You see, PURPA was written to encourage exactly the kind of power the dam provided: affordable, renewable power from a small facility.  Last week, FERC agreed, stating plainly in its decision that “the mandate of PURPA to encourage… small power production,” like the dam on the irrigation canal, “supersede[s] contractual restrictions on a utility’s ability to obtain energy” from small renewable producers.

In other words, rural co-ops must be free to power themselves with the energy resources right in their backyards, no matter what contractual obligations they might have. Freedom to access local renewables trumps other concerns, opening up a new market for clean energy.

Rural co-ops must be free to power themselves with the energy resources right in their backyards.

The implications of this ruling – and the fact that it lines up congruently with FERC’s previous decisions – are enormous for energy freedom and rural co-operatives across the West.  Whether it is hydro, wind, or solar, rural areas are home to tremendous renewable resources. They should be free to make the most of them. It is energizing to see federal regulators acknowledging and protecting that right.

Will this decision empower communities across the West to throw off their contractual shackles and to repower their communities with clean, affordable energy?  Stay tuned, and we’ll see on which energy sources the West is run.

Colorado Gives Day

Update: We wanted to say thanks to everyone who donated to Clean Energy Action on Colorado Gives Day. We truly appreciate all of your support.

We will continue to be your voice and stand up for a stable climate. We know that we have a long way to go to get our energy system on track. There is a lot of work to do and we are doing our best to keep the conversation in Colorado focused on what would will take to rapidly shift to a clean, renewable energy society. To find out more about what we’ve been up to, see the two recent Clean Energy Action articles below.

Give Where You Live For Colorado Gives Day!

CGD 2014_Master(WORKING)
Thanks to everyone who contributed last year! Clean Energy Action was the recipient of a $5,000 1st Bank bonus due to your generosity. We are eligible again if we exceed last year’s commitments. Please be as generous as you can and we may receive an even larger bonus.

A recurring contribution set to begin on December 9th will help keep CEA healthy all year long and count toward a possible bonus. All transaction costs are covered by 1st Bank and other sponsors so that every dollar goes to our work.

Set up your recurring donation today!
Why contribute to Clean Energy Action?

We are still one of the only voices in Colorado advocating for shutting down our fossil fueled infrastructure once and for all. CEA tears down the pillars that support climate instability and builds up the pillars that support climate stability. We understand that there are both environmental and economic risks to continued fossil dependence. While many have championed the conversion of coal fired plants to gas as a result of 2010 Clean Air Clean Jobs Act (CACJA), Clean Energy Action understands that statewide we have actually committed to increasing our overall emissions in Colorado when Xcel’s investments in new coal are included.  These policies have allowed Xcel to add $1B in fossil (both gas and coal retrofits) infrastructure to its generation mix.

Our work this year to date:

Our small staff accomplishes incredible tasks thanks to your support, and our team of interns and volunteers multiply our efforts. Here is an overview of our work from 2014:

  • Our featured posts are now syndicated nationwide on The Energy Collective, including promotion to their over 45,000 followers on Twitter.
  • Our work on Xcel’s ongoing rate case (14AL-0660E) at the Colorado Public Utility Commission has revealed a trove of information:
    • We understand just how cheap Xcel’s fossil plants are compared to the fuel that they commit us to burning.
    • Xcel’s Colorado ratepayers spent ~$550M on fuel in 2013.  About $370M of that was for coal — and as we’ve long pointed out… those coal costs are not decreasing!
    • The value of Xcel’s fossil power plants is $4B today ($2.9B of which is coal) and will increase to $5B as a result of CACJA cost recovery.
    • This means we spend more on fuel every 10 years than all the fossil plants are worth today.  And for coal it’s more like every 8 years.
  • Through our Citizen Power program, CEA has communicated the truth of the fossil fuel cost pass through (aka the Electricity Commodity Adjustment or ECA) to hundreds of citizens and dozens of legislators.
    • Legislation to change this may be introduced, but the fossil lobby will fight hard for the status quo.
    • We created videos to make the wonky Electric Commodity Adjustment digestible.
  • Clean Energy Action has developed energy literacy in hundreds of students in Boulder County with our energy bike and related energy education program.
With your support, our work in 2015:
  • CEA will develop software to comb through FERC, EPA, EIA and other databases to facilitate local communities understanding the costs of fuel and plants in their own neighborhoods.
    • This data will lead others to close dirty fossil plants instead of paying for dirty fossil fuels.
    • Quickly shutting down fossil plants in every state faster than the Clean Power Plan could hope to achieve.
  • Clean Energy Action has been selected as energy educators for many political representatives in CO.
    • The economics of boom and bust fossil jobs will be easily contrasted with the lasting benefit of jobs repowering the grid.
    • We will drive understanding of the myriad risks of continued fossil dependence.
  • Xcel Colorado may submit a new decoupling proposal and CEA will be prepared to intervene to make certain it’s the best deal for a stable climate.
  • Xcel Colorado will submit their quadrennial Electric Resource Plan (ERP) in fall 2015.
    • Clean Energy Action will expose the folly of discounting future fossil fuel costs.
    • This will rapidly change the generation mix away from fossils toward fuel free renewables.
Set up your recurring donation today!

You give to Clean Energy Action because you know we’re effective. We don’t charge a membership fee and all of our events are free thanks to the community of support. Please keep giving where you live to keep us strong and viable. Your voice is amplified by CEA’s voice across Colorado and the nation.

THANK YOU!

Sample of CEA Work

Sample 2014 Featured Articles
Xcel Rate Case – Decoupling
Face the Risk – Explaining the Electric Commodity Adjustment

What is the Electric Commodity Adjustment and How Does it Relate to Your Electric Bill and Renewable Energy?

April iGive Challenge

Sign up in April for an iGive Account
CEA gets a $5 donation

Sign up now

iGive.com

It’s as easy as that – make an account and CEA automatically gets a donation from iGive. After that, anytime you shop from one of the 1,400 online shopping platforms, iGive will give a portion of the sales to Clean Energy Action. And it’s all automatic if you install the iGive button.

iGive Description

iGive is the first online shopping mall where a portion of each purchase is donated to your favorite cause. Established in 1997 for one purpose: to turn everyday online shopping into donations for worthy causes, at no cost to shoppers or the causes they support.

Shopping with iGive

When iGive members shop, an “iGive Cookie” is assigned to your browser. This tells the store, “Here is an iGive Member” using a meaningless member ID number. The store reports back with this number and the amounts for the donation to your cause. iGive never has access to any payment information.

After using an iGive link to the store’s website, you shop as you normally would. There are no extra steps, nor iGive notifications when making payments.

Why sign up & share with your friends?

  • When they shop, they’ll help Clean Energy Action or their own favorite cause. Why not let them take advantage of over 1,400 stores that want to help?
  • The average shopper is raising over $30 – $100 a year for their cause … all for free.
  • It’s simple and automatic..
  • Five bucks free, just for trying us out.
  • The more iGive members, the better the deals we can get from stores.