By Senator Don Coram and Representative Jeni Arndt
Many of our constituents have been customers of Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association, La Plata Electric Association and Delta-Montrose Electric Association for many years, far too many of which have been filled with higher-than-necessary bills, largely a result of suspect decisions out of Tri-State Generation and Transmission’s metro-Denver corporate offices.
Tri-State is supposed to operate in service to its 42 rural electric cooperative members, independent power distributors who are primarily supplied by Tri-State electricity, but its executives consistently seem to ignore how their business plans harm us. Its latest machinations are a prime example, and we encourage the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to rein in this runaway beast.
The issue first bubbled up four years ago when New Mexico-based Kit Carson Electric had had enough of high rates and Tri-State’s inflexibility in allowing co-ops to develop local renewable energy projects. Tri-State tried to extort $137 million from Kit Carson to buy out its contract but eventually settled on a $37 million exit fee. Three years later, Colorado-based Delta-Montrose Electric went through a similar wringer, negotiating an agreement to end its contract for $62.5 million after a nasty legal battle, less than a quarter of the $322 million Tri-State tried to squeeze from it.
Read the rest of this op-ed on the Denver Post website.