NOW: Thanks to billions of dollars in federal clean energy support through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Tri-State and its member co-ops have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to accelerate their transition to clean energy and boost rural economies.
Their applications to the Rural Utilities Service (an agency within the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) have widespread support, from local electeds and state legislators to Gov. Polis and members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation.
Read the support letters below
CLEAN ENERGY TRANSITION WITHIN SIGHT THANKS TO THE INFLATION REDUCTION ACT
Through the Inflation Reduction Act, and in particular the New ERA program, Tri-State Generation and its member cooperatives in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Nebraska can all tap into clean energy pipeline of nearly $11 billion in federal funding. This money has been explicitly earmarked to help smooth rural communities’ transition to clean energy.
This is, to be certain, one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. It will not come around again – and truth be told, it’s always possible that political winds could blow it all away. Which is why it is critical for rural electric cooperatives to leap at the chance now.
The biggest – and most immediate – opportunity is through the Rural Utilities Service’s New ERA (Empowering Rural America) program, which sets aside $9.7 billion in grants and loans specifically for rural electric cooperatives and generation and transmission providers like Tri-State to invest in a variety of energy efficiency, transmission and distribution, and clean energy projects. By utilizing these funds, rural co-ops and Tri-State can both accelerate the transition to a decarbonized grid and in the process boost local economies, create family-supporting jobs in rural areas affected by changes in the energy industry, and transform a rural electric system that has changed little in the past 80+ years.
How I Can
taking the next step on the clean energy transition
Tri-State is eligible for up to $970 million in New ERA program support, and a substantial portion of that funding can be used to pay down tens of millions of dollars in undepreciated – or stranded – costs in fossil fuel infrastructure that is no longer economic to operate – and which member cooperatives are stuck covering costs for decades more.
Applying the low and no-interest loans available through the New ERA program to the Springerville coal plant in Arizona, for example, could easily save member co-ops tens of millions of dollars in interest alone, let alone the huge principal on a plant that doesn’t provide any jobs or local economic benefits in Colorado or the rest of Tri-State’s service territory.
There would be sizable savings in energy costs as well. Power from the Springerville plant is as much as three times as expensive as what it would cost to replace it with new solar projects. Even with battery storage added, replacement power is 25% less expensive than power from the coal plant. Those savings, carried across the expected life of the plant in the late 2030s, could easily climb to the tens of millions of dollars.
Closing Springerville could lead to more clean energy projects across members' communities as well, generating millions in local revenue