Sangre De Cristo Electric Association 2018 Annual Report
By Joe Redetzke Board President and Paul Erickson CEO
In 2018, Sangre de Cristo Electric Association experienced growth in the number of services provided to consumers and completed several major projects, which position us well to serve the power demands of our communities in the future.
Access to electricity is an essential component of our personal well-being. It is also an essential component of providing health care, running a business, operating schools and more. Not only is it crucial for SDCEA to provide power in our region each day, it is key for us to plan to continue to
deliver reliable, affordable power well into the future. To do that, SDCEA concentrates not only on every bolt, line, pole or other delivery component of power distributed to your home or business, we also embrace innovative ideas and projects as we move forward. SDCEA now provides power to more than 13,000 households, businesses and agricultural operations throughout our region in south-central Colorado.
The most visible example of SDCEA’s effort to deploy innovative ideas to best serve our consumers in the future is the completion of the Trout Creek Solar project, located on Colorado Department of Corrections’ property south of Buena Vista. The 2-megawatt utility-scale solar facility was constructed in 2018 and became fully operational in early 2019. It is a multi-year, multi-party, public and private partnership unlike any solar project in Colorado.
For the project to come together, Trout Creek had to be cost-effective to our consumers. At a minimum, it had to be cost-neutral. Extensive contractual talks were held between SDCEA, our wholesale power supplier Tri-State Generation and Transmission, the state of Colorado, the Colorado Department of Corrections, and juwi, Inc., the company that developed the project. These numerous negotiations and deliberations were to ensure that the project would benefit our consumers.
At several points during negotiations, the project appeared to be in danger of being scrapped as not viable economically or logistically. Through continual negotiations with all parties involved, agreements were reached, and Trout Creek Solar was approved and constructed — all within 18 months. SDCEA forecasts Trout Creek Solar will provide a portion of our power costs at long-term stable rates for the next 20 years.
On another renewable front, SDCEA reviewed and streamlined its permitting process for private solar and renewable energy production. More than 317 SDCEA consumers in 2018 used net meters — meters that measure the generation of power through individual solar, wind or hydro generation, such as that from roof-top solar panels or wind turbines at a home or business. By adding consumer net-meter output to Trout Creek Solar’s estimated production, more than 7 percent of SDCEA’s power will be produced from locally-produced, renewable energy in 2019.
Tri-State Generation and Transmission obtains about 30 percent of its energy mix from renewable sources including solar, hydro and wind and is continually seeking additional renewable energy supply sources.
SDCEA continues to be a leader in the area of renewable energy. The total of the renewable energy supply from the above sources amounts to about 40 percent of SDCEA’s power supply provided by renewable sources. That is roughly double what will be required by state law in the year 2020.
Electric Vehicle Chargers
Rounding out our commitment to clean energy in 2018, SDCEA was awarded a $39,000 Electric Vehicle Charging Station grant by the Colorado Energy Office for a Level 3 charger and a two port Level 2 charger, which we installed in the South Main neighborhood in Buena Vista. The Level 3 charger is the only Level 3 charger in the region.
Electric vehicle chargers now fall in to one of three categories.
- A Level 1 charger is generally for home use and typically requires an 8-hour charge to re-power a vehicle after the battery has been discharged.
- A Level 2 charger generally takes 3 hours to charge a vehicle. In addition to our South Main chargers, two dual-slot Level 2 chargers were installed by the town of Buena Vista.
- A Level 3 charger cuts charging time down to one-half hour. This is the only non-Tesla Level 3 station in the region. The general purpose of the project is to deploy electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state of Colorado to encourage expanded use of electric cars in Colorado. Among other factors, consumers cite range anxiety, or the inability to find public charging, as one of the top reasons they do not use electric vehicles.
Besides being convenient to access for local drivers, the station is expected to bring an economic benefit to the area, attracting visitors to pull off US 285/24 to charge their vehicles. Data collected from the station will be contributed for use for consumer education on a state and national level, and to determine use patterns and the economic model needed for future charging stations.
Additional highlights from 2018 follow.
Members, Meters and Services
- At year-end 2018, there were 13,059 meters (service locations) on our system.
- SDCEA added 275 new services in 2018, compared to 195 added in 2017.
- There were 317 net meter accounts (measuring private wind, hydro or solar generation), up from 263 in 2018.
- SDCEA capital credits totaling $228,224 were refunded to members from the year 1995. Tri-State capital credits totaling $228,224 were refunded to members from the years 2000 and 2001.
In Our Communities
- Charitable giving in the SDCEA service territory totaled $19,400.
- Students in our service territory received scholarships totaling $39,000. SDCEA also awarded $1,000 in Basin and $1,000 in Tri-State scholarships.
- Five area students attended the 2018 Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., in June.
- Employee Len Gates of SDCEA attended the 2018 Youth Tour as a chaperone.
- Self-serve and online Community Room scheduling platform was implemented.
In 2018, SDCEA invested in line and pole replacements, transformer upgrades and a power transformer at the Howard Substation to increase reliability in our power supply. SDCEA’s ‘up’ time, the amount of time power is available to our consumers, is more than 99% of the time. We know this is hard to think about when you are experiencing an outage, but we are proud of our service delivery and continue to work on ways to improve on that delivery every day.
The summer of 2018 brought drought and fire concerns. Out of concern during last summer’s weather cycle, SDCEA’s power delivery system was placed on fire prevention standards.
Other projects that helped our cooperative meet the demands of construction growth and reliability included:
- A pole replacement project on the Querida feeder near Westcliffe.
- The Buena Vista 3-phase line was rebuilt on the east side of town to meet town growth demands and improve reliability.
- Glen Vista subdivision’s underground line was replaced to improve reliability.
- Miscellaneous underground line replacements took place from the north to the south ends of SDCEA’s five county territory.
It’s a priority at SDCEA to provide consumers with helpful, clear, informative account information. We also strive to provide account information whenever an account holder would like to access it, so many of these services are available online 24/7 at our website, www.myelectric.coop.
- Access to energy-efficient appliance rebate bill credits through forms consumers may submit easily from home, without having to make copies, mail the rebate forms or drop them by our office.
- Access to website forms that were developed and implemented for consumers who wish to start or stop service, begin construction, make general inquiries and more online.
For those who prefer more traditional forms of contact with SDCEA (calling in or dropping by), several improvements were made to our call-in and walk-in services.
- For outage reporting and other business hours contact, the phone tree to the main contact line was restructured to improve customer call handling.
- A video monitor was designated to broadcast SDCEA information to consumers visiting our lobby in Buena Vista.
- A computer kiosk was placed in Buena Vista’s front lobby for public use to access account information and to conveniently pay bills.
To obtain the skills, acumen and knowledge necessary for a well-run cooperative, our board of directors committed to ongoing education from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. In 2018, Directors Charles A. Abel, II, Geoff Gerk and Joe Redetzke attained Board Leadership
Certification. Directors Don Kaufman and Suzy Kelly continued to maintain their Director Gold status.
Director Dan Daly was re-elected to a second term, having served on the board from 2016 to present. Director Abel was re-elected to a second term, having served on the board from 2015 to present.
SDCEA President Don Kaufman was term-limited as president in 2018. Joe Redetzke was elected president of the board of directors. Also elected to the leadership were Dan Daly, vice president; Suzy Kelly, secretary; and Charles A. Abel II, treasurer.
Employees who attained professional certification included Tracy Linza, who attained the Professional and Human Resources certification or PHR; and Chris McGinnis, who earned a Certified Cooperative Communicator designation.
SDCEA was recognized among its peers in 2018. SDCEA received an award for a Colorado Country Life photo depicting rocky conditions on a jobsite near St. Elmo. An SDCEA photo featuring Santa on an electrical pole near Mt. Princeton was featured by NRECA, the Colorado Rural Electric
Association and other outlets, including other co-ops that used the photo for their own holiday messaging.
Finally, employee Len Gates and SDCEA were featured in a national rural electric magazine in December by a national utility software provider.
- Three long-time, well-known employees, Lynn Culp, Dana Douty and Steve Eggleston, with a combined 108 years of employment at SDCEA, retired in 2018.
- New employees in 2018 included Jaye Culp, engineering clerk I; Colton Blankenbeckler, apprentice lineman; and Chris Eastin, headquarters custodian. Promotions and job changes included: Ryan Doke, from journeyman lineman to line superintendent; Preston Ellis, from journeyman lineman to lead lineman; Brad Lambert, from maintenance tech/utility worker to purchasing agent; Tracy O’Brien, from engineering clerk I to maintenance tech/utility worker; Marilyn Propernick, from part-time custodian to full-time lead custodian; and Ruth Teipel, from customer service representative I to CSR II.
If you have not recently visited our website, myelectric.coop, please do so. It is a source for frequently-updated news and information about SDCEA. We have added a tremendous amount of functionality for you. You may also now go online at any time convenient to you and start new or transfer service, pay bills, review usage online, submit rebates, email us and much more.
As always, if you prefer to drop in and do business in person, we still have a friendly consumer service staff at our headquarters in Buena Vista and you are welcome to call us during normal business hours with questions about your electric service, either at 719-395-2412 or toll-free at 844-395-2412.
We invite you to join us at our annual meeting 10 a.m. June 20 in Westcliffe at Cliff Lanes. Thank you for your time and interest in reading about this electric cooperative.