Poudre Valley REA exec receives national innovation award

FORT COLLINS — Poudre Valley REA president and CEO Jeff Wadsworth has won a national award for innovation for his organization’s work developing a microgrid to serve Red Feather Lakes.

Public Utility Fortnightly, a forum for stakeholders in the utility sector, named Wadsworth its “Fortnightly Foremost Innovator in Microgrids.” The annual Fortnightly Top Innovators awards select honorees in 10 categories of innovation.

“This recognition is a true testament to the dedication and innovative spirit of the employee team at Poudre Valley REA. Its efforts to make this project a reality will have a meaningful and lasting impact on the members and communities we serve,” Wadsworth said in a prepared statement.

Wadsworth was honored for PVREA’s work installing a microgrid in Red Feather Lakes northwest of Fort Collins. The remote and mountainous Red Feather Lakes is served by only one transmission line that is prone to damage caused by weather, natural disasters and human accidents. The microgrid will increase reliability for the electric grid for the area, including during crisis events and seasonal weather challenges.

Poudre Valley REA is working with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and the U.S. Department of Energy to construct the microgrid.

“As a cooperative, it’s important to serve the communities in which we live,” Wadsworth said. “And this community in Red Feather has had to go through a lot. It’s nice as a cooperative to partner with the community we serve and be able to impact and make people’s lives better.”

The project’s timeline was affected by the Cameron Peak fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history. A battery is scheduled to be installed at the community fire station in December, increasing electrical-grid reliability for the volunteer fire department and first responders. The microgrid is expected to become fully operational in the spring of 2021.