Wind deal may allow Holy Cross Energy to reach renewables goal early | PostIndependent.com

Wind deal may allow Holy Cross Energy to reach renewables goal early

Wind farm silhouette

Holy Cross Energy may reach its goal of providing 70 percent renewable energy nine years ahead of schedule.

In a deal with Denver-based energy wholesaler Guzman Energy, the Glenwood Springs-based HCE will develop a new wind farm to serve the Rocky Mountain region, bringing the electric cooperative to nearly 70 percent renewables by summer of 2021.

"We've contracted with Guzman to develop 100 megawatts of wind energy that will flow over the grid to our consumers here in the Roaring Fork Valley, the Glenwood Springs area, and the Eagle and Vail valleys. We're really excited about that," HCE president and CEO Bryan Hannegan said.

There is no location for the plant yet, but it will likely be on the eastern side of the state.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to announce that we’ve achieved our 2030 goals nine years early.”

— Bryan Hannegan, Holy Cross Energy president and CEO

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HCE anticipates the wind farm will be connected to the grid by summer of 2021. Along with other initiatives the company is working to implement, Hannegan hopes to achieve the energy goals at the same time.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to announce that we've achieved our 2030 goals nine years early," Hannegan said. HCE announced in September of last year its goal of reaching 70 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Under the power purchase agreement, HCE is to sell its shares in the coal-fired Comanche Generating Station to Guzman, and buy the company's wind power for its own grid.

The power purchase agreement won't quite be a one-for-one exchange. The nature of wind energy is that, when there is no wind, power isn't being generated.

"We will be buying additional power resources both from Xcel under our existing power cell agreement, and through Guzman itself to make up for some of the differences when the wind is not blowing," Hannegan said.

In December, Xcel announced its own goals to reduce emissions by 80 percent (from 2005 levels), also by 2030, and to reach carbon-neutral energy generation by 2050.

Eventually, the overall cost of energy will go down for Rocky Mountain customers, Hannegan said.

"Given the lower cost of wind when it's blowing, we'll see our power costs go down over time. It's not going to be more expensive — it's going to be less expensive as we set in our goals," Hannegan said.

"This deal allows HCE to meet their renewable energy goals without increasing cost, adds more renewables to the grid in the West, and supplements Guzman's overall resource mix with reliable baseload, as needed," Jeff Heit, managing director with Guzman Energy, said in a statement. "It's another example of what can be accomplished if stakeholders work together to find innovative ways to transition to the new energy economy."

tphippen@postindependent.com