LPEA Closer to Meeting Carbon Footprint Goals

LaPlata Electric could save as much as $7 million a year and reduce its carbon footprint by 50% if it successfully negotiates a contract with a new green energy partner. You’re watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Service Master Restore and Closets Plus. I’m Wendy Graham settle. LaPlata Electric may soon have a new energy supplier if the board of directors agrees to enter into negotiations with Crossover Energy Partners, an Arizona-based firm that builds and manages renewable energy projects. During two online town halls in October, the association outlined the progress it’s made toward meeting its green energy goals and announced its selection of Crossover as a possible energy partner.

We’re trying to reduce our carbon footprint, our carbon emissions by 50% from 2018 levels by the year 2030. And we’re trying to do this while remaining competitive and price competitive with our neighboring utilities. So we want to be less expensive than 70% of our peers, is how that, how that shapes out like that. And so now, how do we accomplish that? Well, we have to go look for different alternative power supplies, evaluate what those might look like compared to our current power supply to see if there’s any good opportunities out there to take advantage of.

LPEA has explored several pathways towards reducing its carbon footprint, including a full departure from the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Cooperative, a partial exit, or negotiating a new contract with Tri-State that would give LaPlata Electric more flexibility to meet local needs. Tri-State supplies electrical power to 45 member cooperatives and public power districts throughout the west. LaPlata Electric now has a long-term contract to buy 95% of its power from Tri-State, but Tri-State generates 70% of its energy from coal-fired power plants. And that’s why the cooperative has been trying to change its Tri-State contract since 2019. During last month’s town hall meetings, Harms presented a preferred plan that would allow LPEA to purchase 50% of its power from Tri-State and 50% of its power from another provider. In this case, Crossover Energy Partners. If the board approves the preferred alternative, LPEA would remain a member of Tri-State and would continue to use Tri-State’s transmission grid to deliver energy to users. The arrangement also would allow LaPlata Electric to continue to benefit from Tri-State energy rebates and capital credit balances. In the preferred plan, Crossover would generate 75% of its power supply with new renewable generation projects that would be dedicated to LPEA. In addition, Crossover will agree to an energy rate for 20 years, will provide $1 million in educational grant funds to the community, and will hire contractors for local projects. Although LaPlata Electric still must negotiate payment for a partial buyout from Tri-State, an agreement with Crossover could save the cooperative an average of $7 million a year, while meeting its carbon footprint goal six to seven years earlier than planned. The deal’s not done. The LaPlata Electric board must formally endorse the preferred alternative, negotiate a contract with Crossover, and agree on a partial buyout from Tri-State. Any new agreements with Tri-State also will have to be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In the meantime, you can watch the online town halls and see the presentation slides at lpea.coop. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I’m Wendy Graham Settle.

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