From hot-water heaters to a school bus: Shaving peak demand in #Durango — @BigPivots #ActOnClimate

San Juan Mountains December 19, 2016. Photo credit: Allen Best

From Big Pivots (Allen Best):

Beginning with about 30 hot-water heaters, La Plata Electric Association intends to begin exploring how to shave peak demand to reduce costs.

The Durango-based electrical cooperative plans to install 30 air-source heat pump water heaters in the Animas View Mobile Home Park. Also done at the same time will be installation of other energy and water-efficient measures, including LED lighting, low-flow faucets and window weather stripping.

The water heater project will allow La Plata to test the viability of grid-integration technology to manage the local power demand. In rare events, during time of peak demand, such as hot summer afternoons, La Plata will be able to remotely manage the water heaters.

Dan Harms, the vice president of grid solutions for La Plata, explains that La Plata will be able to interrupt electricity used by the air-source heat pumps to warm water. This will be temporary and resident will still have hot water in their tanks.

The air-source heat pumps will replace natural gas in warming water. That builds demand for electricity from renewable sources and reduces emissions from the manufactured housing units.

The principle is the same as when Xcel Energy offers discounts to those with air conditioning units in their houses for the ability to turn off the units for relatively brief periods during hot summer afternoons. It’s cheaper than buying power or building plants that will be used only a few hours a year.

La Plata has been busy on other fronts, too. In December, the electrical cooperative and the Durango School District launched Colorado’s first vehicle-to-grid-enabled school bus. The electric bus will travel about 75 miles per day but will have enough charge to travel 150 to 200 miles. When empty, the bus takes 3 to 4 hours to charge its 155-kWh battery.

La Plata will be able to draw on the battery of the bus when electricity prices are high. When fully charged, the bus stores enough electricity to power 30 average single-family homes, or 100 energy-efficient homes, for a few hours.

“V2G installations are the future because they enable our grid to operate with a higher degree of flexibility,” explains Jessica Matlock, the chief executive.

The bus was purchased with aid of a $328,803 grant through the ALT Fuels Colorado program augmented by $120,000 from La Plata for charging infrastructure.

The air-source hot water heater project was enabled by a $50,000 grant from Tri-State Generation and Transmission and the Beneficial League.

Another information source from Tri-State coop members

A group of rural electric cooperative members has relaunched website, Members4Reform.org, to provide information and tools to inform the discussion about Tri-State Generation & Transmission.

Originally created to bring together member-owners of coops in seven western Colorado counties, the creators of the website decided there was need to expand this to include all of Tri-State’s 18 member cooperatives in Colorado. Tri-State has 42 members, 18 in Colorado.

“We’ve felt for so long like we were operating in the dark and didn’t have a voice in decisions that affect a huge swath of Colorado, from the West Slope to the Eastern Plains,” said Mason Osgood, executive director of Telluride-based Sheep Mountain Alliance and a member-owner of San Miguel Power Association.

“Tri-State is moving slowly in the right direction, but there are so many of us who want to see the transition to clean energy happen more quickly and to have the barriers Tri-State is putting up removed. This website is meant to give co-op members a new tool for creating change.”

While planning to close its coal-fired units in Colorado (as it already has in New Mexico), Tri-State plans to continue its operations at two other plants, one in Arizona and the other in Wyoming.

Many of the decisions that will dictate whether Tri-State can be pushed in a new direction are playing out now before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, which oversees Tri-State’s electric resource planning, or ERP, process.

“Energy generation, transmission and distribution are complicated topics. It’s often difficult to follow along and participate in proceedings like the ERP,” said Becky Henderson, who lives in Pinewood Springs, a hamlet located in the foothills northwest of Longmont. It is served by Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association.

United Power collaborating with national group to deliver EV charging stations

United Power has joined the National Electric Highway Coalition in an effort to provide accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Brighton-based United serves more than 10,000 members on the northern flanks of metro Denver, including areas with high adoption of EVs. Two interstate highways, I-25 and I-76, traverse the service territory.

Last year, United opened its second fast charger in Keenesburg, filling the gap for those driving EVS between Brighton and Fort Morgan.

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