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Platte River Power Authority looks to citizens for goals

The environment is a hot topic among Fort Collins residents, and the Platte River Power Authority plans to listen to them to achieve environmental goals. 

The PRPA, which provides power to Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont and Estes Park, began receiving public feedback on its environmental goals and is looking to give Fort Collins a more environmentally stable way to obtain its power.

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Steve Roalstad, the spokesman for PRPA, said the company will compile input from the public, which will influence how it chooses to make and deliver energy in the future. 

“Last year, we did our first round (of meetings),” Roalstad said. “We took input then. Now, we’re going back. … We’re going to hand out a survey asking people what they want and why.”

Roalstad said a round of focus groups is also planned for the spring. 

“Citizens will be able to sit around a table and make decisions and say, ‘This is what I think we should do as a collective group; this is the way the Platte River should move and how they should do it,’” Roalstad said. 

Afterward, the PRPA will hold another town hall meeting to explain how citizens’ input influenced their decisions. 

Roalstad said it’s important to receive feedback from the public because the PRPA is a public power utility, meaning it is owned by the citizens it serves. Local representatives serve on PRPA’s board of directors. 

“This is really a critical time for utilities across the country. There’s as much going on now as there was during the time of Edison and Tesla, and I think it’s an ideal time to get involved.” -Steve Roalstad, spokesman, Poudre River Power Authority

“We are committed to evaluating non-carbon energy sources while maintaining our core pillars to provide reliable, environmentally responsible and financially sustainable electricity to our owner communities,” said Jason Frisbie, general manager and CEO of PRPA. “As a public power provider, understanding the needs and wants of our owner communities is critical to our resource planning process, and I look forward to sharing our progress.”

Roalstad said the PRPA has already made some changes to become more environmentally friendly. He said in 2016, PRPA added 30 megawatts of solar generating capacity, enough to power about 6,000 homes for a year. 

“We signed an agreement with all the owners to close one coal-fired unit out in Craig, Colorado,” Roalstad said. “We are part owner, and we are going to close that early by 2025, many years before its regular retirement date.”

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Roalstad said the company also agreed in 2018 to triple wind capacity by buying 150 megawatts of wind power from a wind farm in Wyoming. Construction hasn’t yet begun, but Roalstad said they are planning on starting soon, and in 2019, the company added 75 megawatts to the original 150 megawatts. 

Even though the power company has already achieved its own environmental goals, Roalstad said the company is always working to satisfy the citizens’ desires as well. The events to speak to the community and receive feedback will happen through December. 

“This is perhaps the most open and transparent process I’ve ever been involved with,” Roalstad said. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for people to engage and help direct their energy future like no other time in the past. This is really a critical time for utilities across the country. There’s as much going on now as there was during the time of Edison and Tesla, and I think it’s an ideal time to get involved.” 

Ceci Taylor can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @cecelia_twt.
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