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RMI Outlet

Plug Into New Ideas

HCE and RMI working together for a more resilient energy future

Report demonstrates how local communities can partner with HCE to improve resiliency & reliability

Basalt and Glenwood Springs, COLO., May 18, 2020—Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) today launched a report which shows how utilities can partner with their communities to enhance community energy resilience to fire and other threats.

The report, the result of a partnership with Holy Cross Energy (HCE), shares insights and information from a multi-month collaboration between RMI, HCE, and stakeholders from the Roaring Fork Valley of western Colorado. The collaboration was motivated by the 2018 Lake Christine Fire, which threatened to disrupt power supply to the 18,000 residents of the Upper Roaring Fork Valley for multiple days, or potentially longer.

“Resilience is a critical issue in our evolving energy system” says Mark Dyson, principal at RMI. “This report shows not only the value of emerging technologies in ensuring delivery of critical energy services; it shows how utilities can engage their communities as partners and collaborators in improving community energy resilience.”

The RMI report contextualizes the Roaring Fork Valley process in terms of broader trends across the US electricity system. A few main conclusions are relevant to the Valley and beyond:

  • Distributed clean energy solutions should be considered as part of any resilience planning process, as they can provide a critical complement to a utility’s traditional grid hardening activities.
  • Effective planning for power supply resilience through distributed solutions requires a partnership between the utility and its community, to maximize economic benefits and community buy-in.
  • Business model and ownership structure innovations can ensure that resilience-related investments can provide year-round (“blue sky”) benefits during normal operations, as well as backup (“black sky”) benefits in the event of an emergency or grid outage.

“As a community-based electric cooperative, we are committed to provide our members with increasingly reliable and resilient sources of electricity to power their lives,” said Bryan Hannegan, President and CEO of Holy Cross Energy. “That’s why we are continuing to work with our members to develop operational changes and deploy new technology projects that can enhance the energy resilience of our system.”

With the 2020 fire season approaching in Colorado and across the West, and the grid already threatened by workforce disruptions caused by the ongoing public health crisis, utilities have the opportunity now to plan in partnership with their communities for increased energy resilience. RMI’s new report provides a case study and suggests best practices for utilities across the country to make rapid progress on this critical topic.

To download the Lessons for Grid Resilience paper, visit Lessons for Grid Resilience from the Upper Roaring Fork Valley

About Rocky Mountain Institute
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)—an independent nonprofit founded in 1982—transforms global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future. It engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; the San Francisco Bay Area; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing.

More information on RMI can be found at www.rmi.org or follow us on Twitter @RockyMtnInst.

About HCE
Founded in 1939, Holy Cross Energy (HCE) is a not-for-profit rural electric cooperative that provides safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy and services that improve the quality of life for almost 44,000 members and their communities in Western Colorado. We are committed to leading the responsible transition to a clean energy future.

For more information on HCE, please visit https://www.holycross.com.