Holy Cross seeking clean energy redemption

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Founded in 1939, Holy Cross Energy is a non-profit rural electric cooperative that provides electricity to just over 55,000 members in the western Colorado counties of Eagle, Pitkin, Garfield, Mesa and Gunnison. Its history is one of necessity: the utility brought the first electricity to 175 families in 1941.

Today, it is going far beyond what is required. The co-op has set an official policy to use clean and renewable electricity sources to supply at least 70% of its member/customers’ power needs by 2030. The utility currently gets 39% of their electricity from clean sources, which itself far outpaces the state of Colorado’s requirement of 10%.

Holy Cross Energy service map

The non-profit utility expects no price increases due to “advances in technology and changes in the energy market”.

Holy Cross noted that it will pursue an additional 0.5% of energy efficiency improvements per year, and will encourage its members to add at least 2 MW per year of new rooftop solar on homes or businesses, giving extra attention to those who couple those resources with energy storage. The cooperative will also aim to add one ~5 MW utility scale plant of any clean energy source every three years, beginning in 2020.

The cooperative buys much of its power through contracts with the Public Service Company of Colorado (an Xcel Energy subsidiary). Including 8% of the energy from Comanche 3, a coal plant whose sisters – Comanche 1 & 2 – are being shut down early as Xcel makes huge headlines with record-sized batteries and amazingly low pricing as it trades away coal (Comanche 1 & 2 specifically) for solar+wind+storage.

Other municipalities in the state have been have been making moves as well – with Colorado Springs aiming for 20% solar by 2024. All of this is on the heels of the state declaring that the installation of energy storage by utility customers is in the public interest, and prohibiting discriminatory charges or regulatory burdens from interfering with this.