Holy Cross boosts juice from renewable sources | AspenTimes.com

Holy Cross boosts juice from renewable sources

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Holy Cross Energy made significant gains in the amount of electricity from renewable sources in its power mix in 2007, according to statistics released Friday.

Holy Cross, a major provider of electricity in the Roaring Fork Valley, boosted its power from renewable sources to 8.7 percent in 2007 from 6.3 percent the prior year, Del Worley, the company’s chief executive officer, said Friday.

The 2007 statistics recently became available after the collection of extra data, Worley said. The 2007 report shows that Holy Cross Energy is back on track to achieving a goal of having at least 15 percent of its power mix coming from renewable energy sources.

Holy Cross Energy, headquartered in Glenwood Springs, is widely regarded as an environmental leader among rural energy cooperatives because of its commitment to renewable energy and its conservation programs. However, the amount of renewable energy in its power mix hit a plateau and then dipped slightly in the middle of this decade, Worley said. The amount of power generated from renewable sources fell from 8 percent earlier this decade to 6.3 percent in 2006.

The increase from renewables in 2007 was due in large part to strides made by Holy Cross Energy’s main provider, Xcel Energy. Xcel made a “big jump” in their amount of wind power in 2007, Worley said.

Holy Cross doesn’t generate electricity. It buys it from wholesalers and provides it to its customers. Holy Cross serves about 53,000 residences and businesses in parts of the Roaring Fork, Eagle and lower Colorado River valleys.

In 2006, Holy Cross’ power supply mix included 55 percent generated from coal, 24 percent generated from natural gas, 15 percent from a mix of coal and natural gas, and 6 percent from renewables.

In 2007, that mix changed to 59 percent of power generated from coal, 29 percent from natural gas, 3 percent from a blend, and 8.7 percent from renewables, Worley said.

His projections for 2008 show another large increase in the amount of power from renewable sources. At this point, it’s projected to reach 12 percent this year, he said.

Again, Xcel’s mix will help Holy Cross boost its ratio. An increasing number of photovoltaic systems within Holy Cross Energy’s service area contribute renewable energy back into the grid, but that amount is still negligible, Worley said.

Randy Udall, an energy expert in Carbondale, said Holy Cross Energy’s carbon emissions would be 15 to 20 percent less now than in 1995 due to their addition of renewables ” if not for growth. However, because of greater demands for electricity within the Holy Cross service area, the utility company hasn’t been able to show actual reductions in emissions, Udall said.

Looking at it another way, without introducing renewables into its mix, Holy Cross Energy’s carbon emissions would be significantly higher over the last 12 years if not for the steps its taken with renewable power sources, Udall said.