Platte River Power Authority, a Colorado based non-profit organization that supplies reliable, safe and environmentally responsible power utility services, has reportedly announced that it has successfully switched 50% of its power generation activities to renewable energy sources.
The move comes just a couple of years after Longmont and Fort Collins municipalities enacted resolutions that call for meeting 100% of their energy demands through renewable energy by 2030.
Vice President at Platte River Power, Pat Connors stated that while this transition has put the not-for-profit energy utility far ahead of its schedule, the remaining 50%, and particularly the final 10%, would be considerably more difficult to achieve.
The organization is expected to unveil its integrated resource plan halfway through 2020. The plan would outline exactly how Platte River Power plans to fulfil this ambitious goal by 2030.
Meanwhile, a new study carried out by a software and services firm in Boulder, Vibrant Clean Energy and commissioned by Community Energy showed that the ambitious undertaking could be significantly more efficient by generating 90% or 80% of energy through renewable sources and keeping natural gas to work as the nexus.
Director and co-owner of Community Energy, Eric Blank stated that the best way this could be done is by not going for 100% electric. It would be smarter to electrify transport and buildings and go to 90% or 80% electric.
Blank further added that natural gas could provide a helping hand for the foreseeable future while coal plants retire, and new wind and solar storage capacities are built. All in all, it could also act as a crucial chunk of backup power during the winters, when solar and wind is not as abundant.
Currently, the utility faces two major challenges, first, as it gradually lowers the output from its coal-fired plants, the equipment in these facilities experiences a greater level of wear and tear, bringing the plants closer to shutting abruptly. Second, it cannot completely shut down its coal-fired plants and replace them with renewables as it would require a better battery storage technology, which does not exist yet.