Eagle joins Vail Valley communities spending more for renewable energy | VailDaily.com

Eagle joins Vail Valley communities spending more for renewable energy

Town Board votes to spend $27,500 more for electricity from renewables

Eagle will pay Holy Cross Energy an additional $27,500 a year to buy more of its electricity from renewable sources. The town already pays Holy Cross Energy $260,000 a year for electricity.
High Plains Public Radio

EAGLE — Eagle will spend 10% more each year for electricity to buy it from renewable sources.

In 2019 the town paid Holy Cross Energy $260,000 for electricity. The town board voted on Jan. 14 to spend an additional $27,500 annually to get some of that electricity from what Holy Cross Energy says are renewable sources, including wind farms on the Eastern Plains and solar farms around the region.

It’s all part of Holy Cross Energy’s Powered by Renewable Energy program known as PuRE. Holy Cross Energy’s Mike Steiner told the Eagle Town Board that the co-op wants to provide 70% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2030.

Let’s generate our own

Eagle’s Town Board voted 6-1 to spend the extra money. Matt Solomon, the lone dissenting vote, remained unconvinced.

“We’re going to pay you more just to be able to say we’re using all renewable energy,” Solomon said to the Holy Cross representatives making the proposal.

Holy Cross buys the energy wholesale from its suppliers, then would charge Eagle retail rates for what amounts to bragging rights, Solomon said.

“I’d rather invest this in our own infrastructure. This is not worth the money,” Solomon said.

Kevin Brubeck of the Town Board countered that this is not that much money compared to Eagle creating renewable energy facilities for itself.

Last week, Holy Cross Energy requested proposals for carbon-free renewable energy projects. That could be right in Eagle’s wheelhouse, both metaphorically and literally. The town’s water source is up Brush Creek south of town. The water running downhill could be harnessed to generate hydroelectric power, Solomon said.

Wind and solar

The PuRE program has three renewable energy sources: wind, hydroelectric and solar. Steiner said wind is the least expensive at three-quarters of a penny per kilowatt-hour above the normal cost. Hydroelectric is just over a penny more, and solar is the most expensive at 22% more.

Eagle’s renewable energy purchase will be split between wind and solar.

The town has the money, the staff’s proposal said.

Holy Cross rebates $40,000 to Eagle each year. Spending $27,500 of that on the PuRE program is an “acceptable use of funds,” the town staff’s proposal said.

Of that $27,500, $13,500 will come from the wastewater fund, $6,850 from the water fund, $4,250 from buildings and grounds, and $2,250 from streets for a total of $27,350.

At least some of Eagle’s increased spending could be offset by reducing the time the staff spends researching building its own renewable energy resources, such as solar arrays. On the downside, the town staff’s proposal said the town would not be funding other maintenance/capital/personnel costs with that money.

The town’s goal is that all its electricity be generated by renewable sources in the next few years, the proposal said.

The extra money Eagle and other Holy Cross customers are spending for renewable energy lands in a Holy Cross fund to create more renewable energy, offer financial incentives to do it, provide rebates to consumers to buy energy-efficient appliances and devices, and promote education, Holy Cross Energy’s Jenna Weatherred said.

In joining Holy Cross Energy’s PuRE program, Eagle joins Eagle County, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Avon, Vail, Carbondale, Basalt, and Snowmass Village.