• USDA executive to discuss grants and loans for local businesses at LPEA


    Cooperative’s quarterly Renewable Energy Generation meeting is May 5

    DURANGO, Colo. – Officials at La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) have received word that Charles W. Thompson, southwest area director, rural development, for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will present at the up-coming LPEA quarterly Renewable Energy Generation meeting, Thursday, May 5, 2011, 9-10 a.m. Thompson will discuss grants and loans available to businesses for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

    “We are very pleased that Mr. Thompson will be able to be a part of our Renewable Energy Generation meeting,” said Sue Maxwell, LPEA project specialist, noting that the meeting will still be held in the multi-purpose room at LPEA’s Bodo Park headquarters (45 Stewart Street), Durango. “These loan and grant opportunities go a long way to helping businesses realize a better return on investment when installing solar or other renewable systems. We want to continue to try to diffuse the mystery of funding and help our members who want to install renewable energy do so most cost effectively – so having Mr. Thompson here is very exciting.”

    The Renewable Energy Generation meeting is part of LPEA’s on-going Free Information Series. All interested members are invited to attend, but, as Maxwell notes, this particular session is likely to be of most interest to local businesses interested in renewable energy, as well as contractors and tradesmen. The USDA grants/loans are not available to residential, governmental or non-profit agency projects.

    “Two local businesses – Zia Taqueria and Digestive Health Associates – have received USDA support for their renewable projects,” said Maxwell. “And the USDA wants to help as many businesses as it can.”

    In addition to the USDA funds, LPEA currently offers an optional program to purchase up front the renewable energy credits (RECs) from those installing renewable generation, helping mitigate the high initial costs often associated with renewable systems. RECs help meet the cooperative’s Renewable Portfolio Standards, or the clean energy mandates from the state government.

    Additionally, LPEA members who install renewable generation are “net metered,” or, more specifically, their electric meter can spin backwards when electricity production is greater than use. If, within a 12-month period, a net metered account generates more electricity than used at the location, LPEA pays for that extra power – currently 6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) – thereby offering a potentially on-going financial benefit to the renewable generator for years to come.

    “But remember too that when you’re producing electricity and off-setting your usage, you’re actually generating it at full retail value, which for residential systems is 10.4 cents per kWh,” added Maxwell. “That’s 10.4 cents per kWh that you’re not paying to LPEA.”

    With large producers of renewable energy, LPEA can also enter into a Power Purchase Agreement, and LPEA already has these types of agreements in place with entities such as Williams (steam recapture) and Lemon Reservoir (micro-hydro). These larger producers are connected to the grid but are not net metered. The actual price per kWh is negotiated in the Power Purchase Agreement.

    “With everything that is available, when all is taken into consideration, that up-front cost to install any type of renewable generation has come way down, helping LPEA’s members enjoy a more reasonable return on investment,” said Mark Schwantes, manager of corporate services. “The financial incentives are all in place and available. We are encouraging our members to learn more about the opportunities if they are investigating installation of a renewable system.”

    LPEA’s quarterly Renewable Energy Generation meetings were established in February 2010 in response to the growing interest in local renewable projects. The program expanded to a regular, broader-based Free Information Series at the cooperative. To learn about future events, visit www.lpea.coop, or request email alerts via Constant Contact (sign up at www.lpea.coop).

    Reservations for the Renewable Energy Generation meeting are not required, but appreciated, as refreshments will be served. For further information, or to RSVP, contact Sue Maxwell directly at 970.382.7170 or smaxwell@lpea.coop.

    LPEA, a Touchstone Energy Cooperative established in 1939, provides to its more than 30,000 members, with in excess of 40,000 meters, safe, reliable electricity at the lowest reasonable cost, while being environmentally responsible. For additional information, contact LPEA at 970.247.5786.

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