Mesa County electric cooperative Grand Valley Power announced Thursday it is actively pursuing a goal to deliver a 60 percent mix of clean energy to its thousands of customers by 2030, joining other power companies and rural cooperatives in a commitment to renewable energy.
Grand Valley Power has more than 30 percent renewable energy in its power supply mix at the moment.
The organization surpassed Colorado's statutory Renewable Energy Standard of 10 percent renewable energy by 2020 roughly 10 years ago.
Currently, the company uses coal for 43 percent of its energy, natural gas for 27 percent and renewable energy for 30 percent, which consists of wind, solar power and hydroelectric. By 2030, coal use is expected to shrink to 18 percent and natural gas to 22 percent. Part of Grand Valley Power's efforts include its solar array near 29 Road and Interstate 70.
Thursday's announcement comes on the heels of a similar one from Xcel Energy in December, when it rolled out a vision to deliver electricity that is 80 percent carbon free by 2030 and 100 percent carbon free by 2050.
Xcel is the wholesale power contractor for Grand Valley Power. The company also has a contract with Western Area Power Administration hydropower. Grand Valley Power CEO Tom Walch said Xcel's efforts are a main reason his organization can set these expectations.
"That's one of the main things that is driving it," Walch said of the effort.
He said the goal is attainable with current technology and without any significant price increase to customers.
"We can project based on current commitments and contracts that we will hit this target," Walch said. "We'll be there. We don't need advancements in technology and won't need a drastic increase in rates or costs to meet the goal."
Grand Valley Power officials noted that homeowners and business owners are more interested in renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions.
"We always have the best interest of our local members at heart," Walch said. "This is an extension of that."
Other rural co-ops have also sought to reduce their reliance on non-renewable resources, including the Delta-Montrose Electric Association.
That group is currently in a battle with its wholesale provider, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, to get out of its contract in order to pursue more renewable energy options. Their contract runs through 2040.
Walch applauded previous members of Grand Valley Power's board for signing on with Xcel as a power provider and said it made sense for the customers.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis pledged during his campaign that he would like to see Colorado powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2040.
Walch said Polis' goal is a nice sentiment, but the technology does not currently exist to accomplish that without a considerable increase in energy prices.
Grand Valley Power serves 18,000 customers in Mesa County, mostly on the outskirts of the city centers.
It was formed in 1936 as the first rural not-for-profit electric co-op in Colorado. Walch estimates his organization serves one of every 10 meters in the county.