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Poudre Valley Electric Association to test microgrid for Red Feather Lakes Town, Colorado


Poudre Valley Electric Association (PVREA) announced today it plans to test a microgrid for the Red Feather Lakes town in Colorado. In fact, the city has experienced outages because of car accidents on curvy roads, extreme weather, and a fire last September.

Furthermore, the microgrid will replace the single transmission line that currently serves the town.

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Poudre Valley Electric on testing its microgrid solution this spring

Today, Poudre Valley Electric Association (PVREA) announced its plans to test a microgrid for Red Feather Lakes in Colorado. Indeed, this microgrid will replace the single transmission line that currently serves the town.

Moreover, the solution is aimed to solve the recent outages the town has experienced. For instance, due to car accidents, extreme weather, and a fire last September. According to the Microgrid Knowledge website, the project “offers an example of the value of microgrids to the small town, remote communities.”

Therefore, the Poudre Valley project’s battery — a Tesla Powerpack — is already at the town’s fire station. There, it will provide backup, and it will be integrated into Poudre Valley’s electrical system in the spring.

In fact, the microgrid will provide resilience to the fire station, library, and local businesses. Besides, it will lower power purchase costs for the local utility.

Thus, the 40-KW, 448-kWh battery can power the fire station for more than a day and possibly multiple days, depending on energy usage during an outage. Moreover, users can charge the battery with an existing backup propane generator at the station. Hence, they can extend the amount of time the battery is available.

Additionally, Poudre Valley is one of more than 800 electric cooperatives in the United States. Therefore, it is a form of utility that can be well-fitted to become good candidates for distributed energy resources, according to a report released in February by CoBank (quoted Microgrid Knowledge).

“Given the successful track record with consumer alignment and behind-the-meter innovations, electric cooperatives could utilize these resources further to insulate their communities against escalating future delivery costs,” CoBank said.

Rural cooperatives and microgrid solutions

Indeed, today, rural cooperatives serve a terrain that covers 56% of the US landmass and 42 million people.

In this regard, the Poudre Valley project is one of four microgrids involving five rural electric cooperatives. Moreover, those are receiving funding from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the US Department of Energy, said Sam Taggart, a spokesman for Poudre Valley.

“This is a case study for how a microgrid can be developed and installed in these rural areas. Also, on how we can adapt it to other areas under different scenarios,” said Taggart.

Moreover, it’s critical for rural electric cooperatives to conduct open and transparent planning to understand their compatibility with the technology. Furthermore, to address how to change traditional business models to accommodate distributed energy, says CoBank.

“The primary role of traditional suppliers might include managing distributed resources owned by their consumers. A move toward a service-based business model could open additional opportunities,” the report said.

In the spring, the cooperative plans to test isolating the community from the utility; so the town can harness the microgrid.

In brief, “when the microgrid is operational, we can use these energy resources primarily for resiliency and also potential cost savings;” concluded Taggart.

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