Holy Cross: Waste no energy, want no energy

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Holy Cross: Waste no energy, want no energy

Date: 06/05/2024     Category: News & Media     Author: Josie Taris     Publication: Aspen Daily News    

Original Post ➡️

The 5-megawatt solar array in Woody Creek is a prime location for a battery storage facility, said Holy Cross Energy President and CEO Bryan Hannegan. The 35-acre facility was completed in 2021, before Holy Cross prioritized storage. This view was provided during an EcoFlight day trip. Courtesy photo

The Western Slope energy cooperative says they’re on track to hit 90% renewable energy by the end of 2025 due to strides being made in wind and solar energy production. With building codes prioritizing solar energy and electrification, however, the power grid will increasingly face a surplus of energy at peak producing times when the demand is not as great. And when customer demand is higher on mornings and evenings, production of solar energy is lower. 

“We’re going to have more of a good thing than we know to do with,” said Bryan Hannegan, president and CEO of Holy Cross Energy. “Part of the challenge is how do we start encouraging people to think about either not producing (energy) or storing that energy for later on so that they can use it at a time where we might otherwise have to go outside of our area and get power supplies from someplace else that may come with a higher price or a carbon footprint.”

The key to avoiding pulling energy with a carbon footprint is ensuring flexibility and storage of renewable energy, which will help eliminate the remaining percentage points of carbon-based energy in the race to 100% renewable. 

Holy Cross is a not-for-profit energy cooperative founded in 1939 by Western Slope ranchers and farmers. The organization provides energy for more than 46,000 members on the Western Slope. 

In 2020, Holy Cross set a goal to reach 100% carbon-free power supply by 2030 and offset greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2035 while maintaining service reliability and affordability. 

They’re ahead of the curve with that goal, Hannegan told the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners at their Tuesday work session. 

Holy Cross reported that in 2023, 50% of their power supply came from wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectric power and coal mine methane recovery. Early 2024 estimates show 75% of their power coming from renewable sources, largely due to an eastern Colorado wind farm.

Located in Kit Carson County, the Bronco Plains II Energy Center sells 150 megawatts of energy to Holy Cross in the winter and 100 megawatts in the summer. The power purchase agreement came online late 2023 and Holy Cross credits the jump from 50% renewable energy to 75% to the wind farm. 

Jenna Weatherred, vice president of member and community relations for Holy Cross, said with the elimination of a curtailment in the transmission line from Kit Carson County to the mountains, Holy Cross expects even more energy from Bronco Plains by the end of 2025.