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PRPA presents updated energy goals to board

PRPA looks to diversify its options to achieve energy goals

Platte River Power Authority is the wholesale utility that serves Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont and Estes Park. On Thursday, staff members presented its board with an updated energy plan to achieve its goal of 100% non-carbon energy by 2030.

PRPA currently generates 33% of its energy from non-carbon sources, most of which comes in the form of wind power. 

As the utility looks into the future, it has determined that solar, wind and diminishing hydropower sources will not allow it to reach its aggressive energy goal of 100% non-carbon by 2030. 

During the board meeting, staff presented the board with recommended strategies that will allow the utility to continue toward achieving its goal. Those strategies include new generators that would replace the coal-fired Rawhide 1 power plant to the north of Fort Collins. However, this technology has not advanced enough to be completely carbon-free, according to Raj Setti, sustainability and transition officer for the utility.

The staff also suggested the use of aeroderivative turbines which are generators that use jet engine technology. These turbines would produce around 200 megawatts of energy and would use the least amount of emitting fuels possible. The turbines would run first on natural gas but transition to hydrogen as the technology advances.

One challenge PRPA recently faced was what they called a “dark day.” It was a day without sun and wind. Days like these cause a gap in power accumulation if the utility relied only on those two sources for energy. 

“We look at the gaps as a problem to be solved but not by one technology,” Setti said.