What would you do if you couldn’t access the resources you needed to fuel your dreams?
You’d find a way.
That’s basically the dilemma that rural community members, farmers, and ranchers along the northern Colorado front range faced some 80 plus years ago. The region looked much different then, and the cost of electrifying rural and remote areas was greater than the large utility providers could manage.
So, the community took matters into their own hands and started the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Cooperative (PVREA). The member-owned electric cooperative has been powering its member’s lives and dreams with positive energy ever since.
Six hundred founding members have multiplied to over 48,000 homes and businesses across 2,000 square miles of service territory in Larimer, Weld, and Boulder counties. PVREA has generated that positive growth with a three-priority goal in mind: to provide reliable and efficient service at affordable rates all while keeping in step with advanced technologies for a more sustainable future.
In electric cooperatives (co-ops) like PVREA, there’s no such thing as a customer. The homes and businesses they serve are members, and that differentiation is not taken lightly. The satisfaction of members is priority number one and is the not-for-profit’s precise reason for being.
Jeff Wadsworth, the president and CEO of the Poudre Valley REA, heavily affirms this priority. He says, “All of what we do is driven by our why. And our why has our members squarely in the middle. It’s about making a positive impact in their lives.”
PAYBACKS ARE SWELL
What the members dream of and desire, PVREA aims to deliver. In April 2021, the member-elected Board of Directors voted on a rate decrease that went into effect in June. It will save members $1.8 million annually. PVREA already boasted the lowest residential rate among electric cooperatives in Colorado, so the recent rate decrease has been icing on the cake. Layer that on top of five years without a rate increase, and you get a pretty positive snapshot of how PVREA members might feel when opening their bills.
Such a feat is made possible through a consistent and determined focus on improving energy efficiency and keeping costs low. If that seems impressive, wait until you hear about the co-op’s plans for benefitting the environment...
PVREA sets itself up for further success by partnering with its membership to support beneficial electrification. In simple terms, that is the strategic idea to improve energy efficiency and reduce overall energy costs in tandem with lowering environmental emissions. The concept is an amalgamation of wins: members receive value in the form of lower electricity costs and out-of-pocket savings, increased efficiency helps the co-op to optimize electric reliability through improved load balance during peak and off-peak hours, and the addition of greener and cleaner energy sources to the power grid reduces harmful carbon emissions in the environment. Now that’s teamwork!
PVREA makes it easy for members to do their part. The co-op offers a robust menu of rebates, programs, and incentives that empower and equip members to manage their own energy use from where their energy comes from to how they use it. In essence, members get paid to be more sustainable, whether that’s through rebates on the purchase and installation of energy-efficient lighting, appliances, or heating/cooling systems, or participation in off-peak programs like Power Peak Rewards.
THE GREEN DREAM
Environmental sustainability is near and dear to PVREA and its membership--so much so that they have recently announced an ambitious plan known as “80by30”. The co-op aims to provide 80% carbon-free energy to its members by 2030 without compromising low rates or 365/24/7 reliability. That’s bound to generate a positive vibe for both the members and the environment.
“We’re working hard for our members to ensure their electricity remains affordable and reliable as we progress towards our goal of providing our members with 80% carbon-free energy by 2030,” says Jeff. “Affordability, reliability, and sustainability are three important factors to our members. So we’re committed to ensuring all these pillars align harmoniously together.”
Members can easily participate in accomplishing the “80by30” goal through tools like the Home Energy Advisor, a program that provides a real-time estimate of home/business energy use and recommends ways to reduce use in those areas.
ENERGY EFFICIENT TIPS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE
• Idle power is a major energy consumer: plug appliances into power strips and turn off when not in use.
• Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible and try to wash full loads to increase efficiency.
• Transition to insulated windows that are covered with a low-emissivity coating.
The co-op also equips members who own or are interested in purchasing an electric vehicle (EV). PVREA’s website (pvrea.coop) provides a collection of guidance on how to select and purchase the right EV, and how to keep it charged in synchronicity with the co-op’s energy load management efforts.
Members can even help shift the energy balance toward renewables through programs like Cooperative Solar or the Green Power Program. A range of options enables members to choose how directly involved they want to be. They can connect to a local solar farm, or invest in clean energy through a small amount on their electric bill. For those interested in rooftop solar, they can contact PVREA to get trusted answers to all of their questions and learn what questions to ask contractors before the installation.
“Today’s consumers increasingly want to buy products and services from purpose-driven organizations that contribute to the greater good.” (Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association)
SHARING THE DREAM
PVREA is also committed to helping the local community achieve its goals and dreams in meaningful ways by supporting community organizations and area youth. Most recently, the co-op helped launch 29 high school seniors in a positive direction by awarding a collective $53,000 in college scholarships.
Last year they approved the retirement model of $3 million in member credits, another cornerstone of their cooperative business model. Member credits are margins that are returned to members, and in the past 5 years alone, over $5 million has been returned to PVREA members.
Poudre Valley REA has come a long way since its conception, and it’s on a rather positive trajectory. When you remember your why dreams really can come true.
Poudre Valley REA pvrea.coop | 1-800-432-1012 7649 REA Parkway Windsor, Colorado