Public Utilities Commission rejects Tri-State motion to exclude Colorado Energy Office from exit charge case
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission today rejected Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association’s efforts to exclude the Colorado Energy Office from participating in the case between Tri-State and Delta-Montrose Electric Association. Delta-Montrose Electric has asked the Public Utilities (PUC) determine the amount it must pay to exit from Tri-State, while Tri-State has argued that the PUC does not have jurisdiction in the case.
The Colorado Energy Office sought to intervene in the case earlier this month, noting that it can “intervene as a matter of right” under Colorado law. But the agency also acknowledged that its request came after a 30 day deadline, because the agency’s new executive director Will Toor took office on January 14.
In response, Tri-State argued that the Colorado Energy Office should not be allowed to intervene in the case, in part by claiming that the state agency's "concerns regarding DMEA's rates and facilities" are outside of the PUC’s jurisdiction.
Last week, a majority of Colorado state legislators urged the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to determine the amount that Delta-Montrose Electric Association must pay to exit from Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.
In response to the legislators’ letter, Tri-State has sought to highlight the support from its member co-ops for its argument that the Colorado PUC does not have jurisdiction in the dispute.
The Denver Post reported:
Tri-State spokesman Lee Boughey said in an email Friday that 34 of its member cooperatives have filed statements supporting the position that the state utilities commission doesn’t have jurisdiction in the contract dispute.
The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported:
Tri-State spokesman Lee Boughey said that 34 of Tri-State's members, or 80 percent, have made filings with the PUC in support of its position that the DMEA issue is not up to the PUC to decide.
"Legislators should be aware that the vast majority of our members disagree with DMEA, and in fact have intervened on Tri-State's behalf at the PUC. We would encourage legislators to reach out to the co-ops in their districts for feedback when they're asked about these kinds of matters," Boughey said.
But an analysis of the filings submitted by co-ops to the Colorado PUC shows that Tri-State’s claims are false. And requests for comment from the general managers of ten co-ops in Colorado returned only two responses - both disputing that they “have intervened on Tri-State behalf.”
A majority of Colorado’s state legislators are urging the Colorado Public Utilities (PUC) to determine the amount that Delta-Montrose Electric Association must pay to exit from Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association.
In a letter this week to Colorado PUC Chairman Jeff Ackermann and Commissioner Frances Koncilja, 17 Colorado State Senators and 35 State Representatives wrote:
We submit these comments in support of the filing last month by Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) asking the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to set a just, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory charge for DMEA’s exit from Tri-State.
As members of the Colorado General Assembly who care about rural economic development and allowing all Coloradans access to less expensive power from local and diverse generation sources, we urge the Commission to strongly consider exercising its jurisdiction under Colorado law and setting an exit charge fair to both DMEA and Tri-State’s remaining members.
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United Power has been meeting with other electric cooperatives this month, in an effort to build support for its proposal to change the bylaws of its power supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. Those meetings follow United Power’s invitations to discuss its “grave concerns about key elements of Tri-State’s key generation products and services” directly with the 42 other co-ops that buy power from Tri-State.
At a presentation to Mountain Parks Electric on January 3, United Power New Business Director Jerry Marizza explained that United Power was not proposing to simply raise the 5% limit that Tri-State imposes on local renewable energy development to a higher level. Instead, the proposal for a partial requirements contract option would assure that Tri-State continues to provide a portion of United Power’s energy purchases, while allowing United Power to meet its electricity load growth by pursuing its own local renewable energy projects, or buying wholesale power from other providers.
United Power staff said the proposal would also give the co-op the ability to provide its major customers with lower rates and renewable energy options that aren’t possible with the current Tri-State contract. One example Marizza noted were commercial customers that now expect to be able to build larger on-site solar arrays to help power their operations:
“All this stuff is happening at the distribution level. Ikea - they will not build a facility unless they get to put a megawatt of solar on their roof. That’s just a fact, okay? If you want an Ikea, you’re going to have to deal with that fact. And you can’t come to them and say ‘I’d love to accommodate you, but Tri-State’s contract won’t allow me to.’ That’s not an answer, it really isn’t.”
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