By Joe Smyth | firstname.lastname@example.org | @joesmyth
Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association will hold its annual meeting during the first week of April, where member co-ops are expected to approve changes to Tri-State’s bylaws. But this year, members of the 43 electric cooperatives that buy power from Tri-State won’t be allowed to attend.
Emails from Tri-State’s CEO and board president provided inconsistent explanations for why members would not be allowed to attend the annual meeting.
In an email this week, Tri-State CEO Mike McInnes claimed that co-op members wouldn’t be allowed to attend “because of the growth we continue to have."
I am both sorry and thrilled that we are needing to start limiting the attendance at our Annual Meeting because of the growth that we continue to have. In the past, we were able to be more flexible with the attendance and as you mentioned, you were able to attend.
But an email from Tri-State Board President Rick Gordon to a Tri-State member co-op director made no mention of any space constraints, and instead bluntly stated “Our Annual Meeting is not a public meeting.”
Our Annual Meeting is not a public meeting. It is open to our member directors, managers, member system employees, and invited guests.
There will not be any opportunity to ask questions at the Annual Meeting. The Q & A portion of the meeting will be on Thursday morning during the membership meeting. This will again only be open to our member directors, managers and system employees.
Last year, a portion of the annual meeting was open to co-op members and the public. I attended the open portion of the annual meeting, and another co-op member received an email from Tri-State CEO Mike McInnes with a different message:
You are more than welcome to attend the annual meeting April 3rd and 4th if you desire. The Membership Meeting on the 5th is only for Tri-State members which includes the member Board of Directors and the member Managers.
Colorado law requires open meetings for all electric cooperatives - except for Tri-State
Under Colorado Public Utilities law, electric cooperatives must allow the public to attend meetings. Colorado Revised Statutes 40-95-108 state:
All meetings of a cooperative electric association are declared to be open meetings and open to the members, consumers, and news media at all times;
But a separate section exempts generation and transmission associations from several rules that apply to electric cooperatives, including the public meetings requirement:
For the purposes of this part 1, “cooperative electric association” includes a nonprofit electric corporation or association but does not include nonprofit generation and transmission electric corporations or associations.
Tri-State is the only generation and transmission association in Colorado.
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