Consumer Guide: Renewable Energy in Larimer County

The LWV-Larimer County’s Environmental Action – Renewable Energy team has compiled the following information to assist Larimer County consumers to know more about green energy and local sources. We believe that as more of us choose Green Energy, providers will be motivated to increase their development of Green Energy and decrease their use of fossil fuels.

Green Energy means electricity supplied from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydropower, and biomass. Today, most electricity in Larimer County comes from fossil fuels – carbon sources including coal, oil, and natural gas. Fossil fuel sources are non-renewable. Extracting and burning these fuels pollutes our environment, including release of greenhouse gases, which cause global warming.

To learn more, go to The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s web site discussion of the benefits of renewable energy.  Read on to learn more or download the full PDF here..

Efficiency First

Whether you’re using electricity to make your home livable or run your business, the most sustainable way to use energy is to use as little as necessary to meet your needs. Efficiency Works offers assistance to help you save energy, water, and money; and protect the environment. Platte River Power Authority and the municipal utilities in Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, and Estes Park have joined in the Efficiency Works program to provide customers with technical assistance, rebates and incentives for improving efficiency and saving money.

Free home efficiency assessments and low-energy devices reduce your utility bills and save water and energy! The Larimer County Conservation Corps (LCCC) provides free home efficiency assessments to Fort Collins Utilities and Loveland Water and Power customers. Assessments are available to renters and home owners. The home efficiency assessment performed by the LCCC includes education and free installation of appropriate efficiency measures based on the home’s needs such as light bulbs, shower heads, faucet aerators, a clothesline, and a programmable thermostat. Sign up to start saving at The 2016 season has ended and new home efficiency assessment applications will be kept on file until the program resumes in December.

Options for Going “Green”

Consumers can “go green’” by selecting electricity providers that offer green power programs, meaning electricity generated by large-scale wind farms and large solar arrays. These wind farms and solar arrays feed power into the electricity power grid, which reduces demand for non-renewable, carbon based sources of electricity.

As described in detail below, Fort Collins Utilities, Loveland Utilities and the independent supplier, Arcadia Power offer programs that vary considerably in cost to consumers and flexibility in the amount of green power supplied.

Consumers also can install their own personal stand-alone solar and wind power energy generating equipment for their homes and businesses from providers identified below. Power generation equipment systems can be purchased outright or by lease-purchase arrangements. Owners can connect their system to the power grid. Owners power their home and business energy needs with their personal power system and feed surplus solar/wind power into the grid. Purchase or leasing and installation costs may be partly offset by subsidies and tax credits. Information, advice, and service for these systems are available from power utilities and a number of specialized businesses provided in links detailed below.

Solar and wind energy can also be obtained by buying into a local or regional-scale generation facility, such as ‘community solar’ for the benefits of solar ownership without construction and maintenance of a stand-alone system. Participants buy shares in the facility and can take advantage of rebates and tax incentives. Typically, participants retain ownership if they move within the utility territory. In some (limited) locations and in some programs, participants may be permitted to sell their participation share; however, currently existing programs are fully subscribed, so prospective buyers would need to find a current participant who wants to sell their share.

Specific Providers and Green Power Options

Arcadia Power

Arcadia is a supplier of electricity generated by 100% renewable sources; subscribers pay an additional 1.8 cents/kilowatt-hour (kWh), based on their bill. Arcadia subscribers receive electricity from their local utility and Arcadia ensures that an equivalent amount of renewable energy is fed into the grid; subscribers are not required to purchase renewable energy in a required minimum amount; e g., 100 kWh ‘blocks’ as required by many utilities’ wind power. Unlike power utilities, Arcadia’s mission is to change electricity supply from fossil fuels to renewable. Arcadia supplies renewable energy only. Arcadia is available to all electricity customers in their service area, which can be checked by entering your zip code. If you subscribe with Arcadia, you will receive a consolidated monthly electricity statement from Arcadia instead of from your local utility.

Fort Collins Utilities

  • Green Energy Program This provides customers the option to receive renewable energy for an additional 2.4 cents/kWh.
  • Home Efficiency Loan Program This provides financing for solar, water conservation and energy efficiency projects (including heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; insulation and air sealing; windows; solar photovoltaic (PV); and water service line repair or replacement). Loans ($1,000-$15,000) for up to 100 percent of project cost, with financing for up to 20 years at a low fixed interest rate. Loans are repaid on the monthly utility bill.
  • Rebates FCU gives rebates for solar PV system installations.
  • Community solar Participating customers purchase solar PV panels within the Clean Energy Collective solar farm. FCU customers with solar PV receive credit for electricity generated by their Clean Energy Collective.

Loveland Power

Loveland Water and Power has a renewable energy program with two options:

  • Customers can install and connect their own electricity generation system, such as solar PV or wind, to the Loveland power grid and receive credits for electricity generated.
  • GreenSwitch: This renewable energy program allows customers to purchase renewable energy from a clean renewable source in 100 kWh blocks. Customers can purchase as many GreenSwitch blocks as needed for their energy requirement. Each block of GreenSwitch energy costs $2.70/month. Currently, GreenSwitch energy is from wind.
  • Conserve: This program offers low-cost energy audits, technical advisory experts and installation of free energy-saving products, as well as rebates to qualified customers to help reduce costs of making improvements for energy efficient savings.

Estes Park Light & Power

EPLP serves about 12,000 customers covering an area of 424 square miles – including Estes Park, the Glen Haven area, and the area south on Highway 7 through Meeker Park, Allenspark, Ferncliff and Pine Valley.

  • Renewable Energy Purchase Program EPLP customers can invest in increasing production of renewable energy by purchasing renewable energy in 100 kWh blocks. Each block purchased will result in a cost of $1.30 over and above the customer’s monthly utility bill.
  • Efficiency Works This program offers low-cost energy audits, technical advisory experts and installation of free energy-saving products, as well as rebates to qualified customers to help reduce costs of making improvements for energy efficient savings.
  • Solar Power There are several requirements which must be followed by property owners installing a PV system for their home or business within the service area of Estes Park Light & Power Division. They are detailed at this web page.

Longmont Power & Communications

  • Renewable Energy Program: Customers can obtain renewable-source electricity for an additional 2.96 cents/kWh. LPC’s renewable energy is purchased from Platte River Power Authority, a wholesale electricity provider. Wind energy is generated at the Silver Sage (Wyoming) Wind Project, owned and operated by Platte River. Platte River also obtains renewable energy produced by other utilities from wind and landfill gas, procured through renewable energy certificates (RECs).
  • Solar power: Customers can connect home-based generation systems to the grid with net metering. Longmont residents can receive a $500 discount from solar contractors that participate in the Solar Friendly Communities program.

Xcel Energy

  • Windsource: This program provides customers with wind-generated power for a small additional cost added to the monthly bill. Customers subscribe to wind power in 100 kWh blocks.
  • Solar Rewards: This program provides incentives and rebates for installation of PV solar panels and credit for electricity generated.
  • Xcel does not offer community solar in Larimer County, but does in some service areas in Colorado.
  • Non-Solar REC Program: This provides incentives for customer owned, non-solar renewable installations, such as small wind and hydro. With these systems, you’ll produce your own renewable energy.

Poudre Valley REA

PVREA is a not-for-profit electric cooperative serving approximately 39,500 members in Larimer, Boulder and Weld counties. Renewable sources provide 28% of PVREA’s supply: Carter Lake Hydropower, two Community Solar Farms, the Skylark and Valley View Solar Facilities, and several hundred members with individual PV solar systems are integrated into the power grid.

PVREA has a number of energy efficiency and renewable energy programs that can be beneficial to customers:

  • Green Power: This is renewable energy provided from wind, solar and small scale hydroelectric sources. Green Power can be purchased in 100 kWh blocks for 9¢ per block, no minimum or maximum amount.
  • Net Metering: Get credit for electricity generated by your renewable energy system, supplied to grid.
  • Community Solar Farms: Customers purchase solar panels and receive a monthly credit on their electric bills. The first solar farm was completed in August 2012 and was the first community solar farm in Northern Colorado. The second farm went live in January 2015 and is located in Fort Collins. Both arrays are 100% sold out. The community solar concept allows all consumers, including renters, to participate in renewable energy without putting solar panels on their roof and they don’t have to worry about maintenance or repair.
  • Rebates: These are given for new appliances and heating and cooling equipment with an ENERGY STAR rating.

Solar PV Leased Systems

The companies below offer to install solar PV systems on homes, but the systems are owned by the company and leased to the home owner.

Information & Advice about Solar PV Systems

Major Power Producers in Our Area

Platte River Power Authority

PRPA is a not-for-profit wholesale electricity provider managed jointly by Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland, to deliver electricity to their utility customers.

PRPA uses several sources of electricity to supply its customers:

Rawhide Unit One coal 280 MW
Rawhide Units A, B, C, D, F natural gas 388 MW
Yampa Project coal 154 MW
WAPA (Federal hydroelectric) hydro 90 MW
Medicine Bow Wind Project wind 6 MW
Silver Sage Wind Project wind 12 MW
Spring Canyon Wind Center wind 60 MW
summer capacity 990 MW

Energy delivered to PRPA’s Four Municipalities in 2014, by Source:

Coal 74.20%
Hydropower 19.10%
Wind and Renewable Energy 4.80%
Natural Gas 0.20%
Unspecified Purchases 1.70%

Colorado-Big Thompson Project

This project transfers water from the West Slope to the East Slope. The project has six hydroelectric power plants located on the East Slope and one power plant on the West Slope. The project supplies power to customers in Colorado, Eastern Wyoming and Western Nebraska. Net generation averages 700 million KWh/year, which is enough to supply approximately 68,000 homes. Power generated by the Trout plant supplies PVREA. Power generated by the other plants supplies the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Energy, which transmits wholesale power from 57 plants within a service area encompassing 15 states in central and western U.S.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.