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MVEA holds Lamplighters dinner

Mountain View Electric Association held its annual Lamplighters dinner Oct. 8 for Falcon-area MVEA members at the Antler Creek Golf Club.The association sponsors the dinner to share information with its members on MVEA projects and issues. Because MVEA is a rural cooperative, its customers are its members.MVEA’s general manager, Jim Herron, provided information about MVEA’s new office on Woodmen Road, which should be finished by the end of November.Because lighting in commercial buildings consumes the most electricity, Herron said the building was designed with clearstory construction and solar tubes to allow for natural light. Light wells also allowed natural light to reach the bottom floor.The building is equipped with light-emitting diode task lighting and fluorescent lights that dim automatically when a room is empty or naturally well-lit.”We’ve stepped into the renewable energy age,” he said. The new building includes a solar array and wind turbine to demonstrate how customers can install the devices and generate their own electricity.There is a strong interest in renewable energy within MVEA’s service area, Herron said.By matching $65,000 in grant money from Gov. Bill Ritter’s energy office, in 2009, MVEA offered rebates that helped fund 25 projects in MVEA’s service area.Herron also summarized the association’s growth since 1995, when MVEA had almost 20,000 customers, which he measured in meters.”We doubled from 20,000 to 40,000 meters in the 12 years between 1995 and 2007,” he said, with a growth rate of 1,500 to 3,000 meters a year.”Growth has slowed down a bit since then. I think this year we may be in the 800 [meter] range before the end of the year.” Electricity sales have declined by 4 percent, Herron said.The economic downturn has had an impact on Tri-State Generation and Transmission, the source of electricity for MVEA.Tri-State has put on hold many of the transmission line projects that would have crisscrossed the MVEA service area and has also delayed construction on a power generation plant in southeastern Colorado, Herron said. “Tri-State will buy power from a 30 megawatt solar unit in New Mexico and from the 51 megawatt Kit Carson wind project near Burlington,” he added.Herron talked about climate change. “The generation of electricity … emits about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide [produced by] industry in the United States,” he said.The Obama administration is taking two approaches to climate change: new legislation or allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases.Of the two, Herron said he prefers new legislation, which presents opportunities to debate the issues.”The Senate introduced a climate change bill just a few days ago, and it’s looking at a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020 and 80 percent reduction by 2050,” he said.”You would have to reduce your consumption or we would have to have technology that’s going to allow us to do what we do now … [to] have an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases,” he said.”The technology for carbon capture and sequestration [from burning coal] is not there yet, so we’re saying, ‘Make sure if you’re going to put mandates on us the technology is available,'” Herron said.By Herron’s rough calculations, the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, which the House passed in June, would raise the price of electricity for an average MVEA customer $100 a year in 2012. By 2030, additional increases would raise that customer’s electricity bill by $300 a year.”Legislation must be fair, affordable and achievable,” he said, adding that MVEA members concerned about climate change legislation should contact their representatives in Congress.Darryl Edwards, manager of MVEA’s member services department, said MVEA holds Lamplighter dinners every year in Falcon, Limon, Calhan and Monument. Anyone interested in attending the dinner next year should call MVEA’s Falcon office and ask to be put on the invitee list for 2010.

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