TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANTAGES

Emerging from the content analysis was a set of stated advantages that were classified as “technological” advantages, comprising 19% of the re­sponses. SLV stakeholders mentioned at least 17 of these and stakeholders outside the Valley mentioned 25 such responses.

Twenty responses mentioned that renewable energy improves the secu­rity and diversity of power supplies and reduces dependence on imported energy. One Valley stakeholder put it this way:

[What’s important] is the ability to attach and I think what it is called is. they’ve got to be able to integrate with our system through a substation to get it out, and right now there is a 230, actually it’s a double-circuit, 230 transmission line planned in the San Luis Valley to Walsenburg, and it is a combination of Xcel and Rural Electric and Tri-State that are going to put that transmis­sion line in.

Interviewer: Is that for sure going to.?

Stakeholder: Oh, yeah. One way or another. And it should be.. the SLV doesn’t put any money in, it is just for the Valley system, and Xcel and Tri-State pay for it. It is about an $80 million proj­ect. It should be completed by 2012 or 2013.

Interviewer: And why are they doing this?

Stakeholder: Because we are running out of power in the valley.

The last transmission line built in San Luis Valley was 35 years ago.

One stakeholder from outside the Valley described the advantages of renewable energy in a different way. This interviewee stressed the security value of distributed generation, as shown in the following quote:

We talk about what we’re doing today as the alternative model and that what we’d be doing in the future is going to something tradi­tional, I would say the centralized model is the alternative model.

For the life of the planet, we have dealt with distributed genera­tion and energy for all but about 70 years of the life of this planet.

Integration of the distributed and larger grid can complement the central system with energy efficiency and renewable energy, in­stead of having another 25 or 30 coal plants in the queue in this country; it should be classified as preposterous, when we know that with energy efficiency, conservation, and the distributed mod­el, we can take this centralized system that we’ve built and is in play and is working well for us, and complementing it and meeting our future demands with a much more distributed model.

It’s the smart grid that is the glue or provides the way to accom­modate distributed and central station. Once we got the next ad­vances in storage, then we really have a system…

Advantages of..It’s more resilient. If you look at it from a national security perspective, and you quantify and weigh national secu­rity, economic security, and environmental benefits, this model is what maximizes those three things.

A well-informed stakeholder from outside the Valley talked about the prospect of CSP development and the need for a transmission line to en­hance the security of the Valley, which has been served by only one trans­mission line coming in from the north.

It was a cooperative transmission line across La Veta Pass into the Valley. It goes across some private land, some state land, and then it also might go partially along a highway corridor, so you’re bringing it across the pass. What it is is it is a double, I think it is a 230-KV line that will be a shared project from Tri-State and Xcel.

One, they have to have a loop system right now into this valley. Their energy into the valley is very insecure because if there were a fire, these guys are toast. There wouldn’t be any electricity for quite a while because they are very vulnerable the way the whole transmission network is in the San Luis Valley…. it’s for the secu­rity of the region.

Another outside stakeholder put it this way:

It’s flipped. Energy independence probably takes precedence over clean energy right now, and that’s the whole Middle East thing.

So the priorities kind of swapped. In fact if you listen to Obama’s speech he talks about eliminating our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. I mean he says Middle Eastern which is key, by, in ten years, and that’s all security.

Clearly, the energy security implications of renewable energy were described from differing perspectives, but similar basic themes emerged about increasing U. S. self-sufficiency through decreasing foreign imports, and increasing Colorado self-sufficiency by producing Colorado power (not importing coal, for example).

A second type of technological advantage was classified as CSP pro­vides dispatchable energy and is a building block toward baseload elec­tricity. Outside stakeholders (n=13) made more comments about this than did Valley stakeholders (n=5).

CSP has two distinct advantages over PVright now. I think costs are roughly equivalent on an energy basis. However, CSP does not suffer the short-term intermittency that PV does…. with the SunEdison facility, there is more volatility with generation. CSP avoids this because it is a thermal cycle. It is essentially a steam turbine and it does not react to individual clouds the way PV does, and it has the ability to add storage inherent in the system. . . the advantage of thermal storage is that with 100% reliability it meets peak day loads.