FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Platte River Power Authority was presented with the 2005 Environmental Business Award for Resource Conservation by the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce. The City of Fort Collins Climate Wise program also recognized the utility for its incorporation of business environmental practices.
"Your outstanding efforts to enhance the environmental performance of your organization are to be commended," said Ann Hutchison, executive vice president, Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce.
"Platte River is proud to be recognized by both organizations for its long-time commitment to environmental stewardship," said Brian Moeck, Platte River's general manager.
Both the award and recognition are based on operating practices and programs developed as a result of Platte River's environmental policy and principles. Some of those programs include:
• Environmental Protection -- In 2005, Platte River voluntarily spent more than $15 million upgrading the coal burners at its Rawhide Energy Station. The upgrade resulted in a 35 percent decrease in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. NOx emissions are now 60 percent lower than permitted levels.
• Renewable Energy -- Platte River and Fort Collins Utilities partnered to become the first Colorado utilities to provide wind energy to customers in 1998. Since then, Platte River's wind generation facility has been expanded to 10 wind turbines. The latest addition came in 2005 with the construction of a wind turbine -- the first of its kind in the world -- with an innovative design that makes more efficient use of low-to-moderate winds.
• Energy Conservation -- Platte River funds and administers two programs designed to encourage customers to adopt energy-saving equipment. These programs provide cash incentives for projects such as upgrading to energy efficient air conditioners, replacing lights and upgrading electric motors. In 2005, the fourth year for these programs, Platte River rebated $643,00 to more than 1,300 customers in its service area to help pay for projects estimated to reduce annual energy consumption by 3.9 billion watt-hours, or enough electricity for approximately 500 homes.
Platte River also has a self-imposed responsibility to conserve energy. In 2005 a lighting retrofit was completed at the Rawhide Energy Station. Beginning in 2004 and completed in 2006, the project concentrated on retrofitting both 4- and 8-foot lighting fixtures throughout the power plant. As a result, approximately 747,900 kWh/yr. (enough electricity for approximately 90 homes) are saved. Other benefits at Rawhide include brighter light, more uniform light over time since the new lamps don’t dim as much as they age and less heat output.
• Transportation Programs -- Platte River's modest fleet of vehicles includes two all-electric Toyota RAV4s and three gas-electric hybrids. In 2005 use of these vehicles saved approximately 339 gallons of gasoline and reduced Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about 4.5 tons.
In addition, to reduce commuting miles, save fuel and reduce GHG emissions, Platte River employees commute to Rawhide in a commuter van through the regional SmartTrips VanGo program. By vanpooling in 2005, employees drove about 75,000 fewer miles and their cars emitted 37 fewer tons of GHG.
• Community Activities -- For the fifth year in a row, in 2005, Platte River provided funding for trees planted at schools, parks and along city streets. The City of Fort Collins' Arbor Day Proclamation officially recognized Platte River for "maintaining a strong commitment to the environment when planning new sources of electricity whether through wind power, hydroelectricity, or planting trees." Platte River provides funding for trees in its other three owner communities annually.
Wooden power poles replaced during transmission system upgrade projects were recycled for use as parking lot dubs at the Fort Collins Soccer Club Complex.
Members of the Platte River Power Employees' Association collected trash and debris as part of its "adopt-a-trail" activities along the "Power Trail." Platte River donated the land used for this eastern portion of Fort Collins' network of recreation trails in 1997.
Platte River produced a booklet on alternative home cooling methods to help customers reduce summer energy consumption and utility bills. The booklets were distributed to utility customers by each of Platte River's owner communities' utilities and through Home Depot stores.
Climate Wise is a voluntary program for businesses in Fort Collins that helps them to reduce their green house gases and also save money.
According to Climate Wise Program Manager Kathy Collier, "Climate Wise in an innovative, forward-thinking program that supports both business and the environment. It's just one more way the City demonstrates its commitment to creating a world-class community that’s livable, beautiful, healthy and prosperous."