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La Plata Electric confirms Green Power credit price reduction

The premium to purchase Green Power credits through La Plata Electric Association (LPEA), which supports electricity generated from renewable resources, has dropped to $0.08 (8 cents) per 100 kilowatt hour (kWh) block from $0.10 (10 cents) per 100 kWh block, effective Jan. 1, 2012.

“With this price reduction, the average household in La Plata or Archuleta, which uses about 700 kWh per month, could off-set all the electricity they use in their home for a little more than 50 cents per month,” said Mark Schwantes, LPEA manager of corporate services. “LPEA’s members have been very supportive of the program thus far, and we hope as it becomes more economically viable, more members will sign up.”

LPEA has continued to be among the leading purchasers of the “voluntary” Green Power within Tri-State Generation and Transmission’s 44-member cooperative system since the program’s launch in 1998. LPEA members currently support nearly 2.5 million kilowatt hours of Green Power generation each month.

“One never truly knows how energy prices will trend, but renewable energy has continued to become more cost effective going forward,” said Greg Munro, LPEA CEO. “The price reduction is an example of the free market in operation. Demand has prompted an increase in supply, and thus our power supplier, Tri-State can purchase renewable energy credits at a reduced cost.”

LPEA members have the option to sign up to purchase Green Power credits from Tri-State, thereby off-setting their traditional electricity power purchase with renewable energy credits (which is required for businesses promoting themselves as “100 percent green-powered” and buildings maintaining LEED certification), or for the same premium can opt to support local renewable projects through LPEA” — or double up and purchase Tri-State Green Power credits and support local projects for $0.16 per month per 100 kWh block.

“When our members designate Green Power funds to local generation, we are able to help these local renewable installations become more financially feasible,” said Schwantes.”“Our members have asked that more power be produced locally, and we’re working to facilitate that.”

Southwest Colorado is seeing a growth in this “distributed generation,” which is power produced from smaller sources (away from a central generating entity such as Tri-State). Within LPEA’s service territory, 320 solar photovoltaic systems are now net metered (tied to LPEA’s electrical system), plus a 4 megawatt bio-mass project in Archuleta County is endeavoring to come on line in 2013. The Department of Energy is also accepting proposals for a 4.5 megawatt solar farm located on the DOE’s property in Ridges Basin, and additional entities are studying the feasibility of small solar farms. Further, ranchers and small water companies within LPEA’s service territory are exploring and bringing micro-hydro projects on line.

The LPEA Green Power program was initiated in 1998 when Tri-State responded to requests by its member rural electric cooperatives to include a Green Power option as part of its available resources to end-use consumers. The premium has decreased from the initial $2.50 per 100 kWh block, to $1.25 in 2006; $0.80 in 2008; $0.40 on Jan. 1, 2010; $0.10 in July 2010; to the current $0.08.

Because LPEA’s Green Power purchase program is voluntary, LPEA members must specifically request to participate. To sign up, visit www.lpea.coop/green_power on the web, or in person at the LPEA office in Pagosa Springs (603 S. 8th St.), or call 247-5786.

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