Tri-State seeks dismissal of Colorado Public Utilities Commission complaint

Contract issues should be resolved by membership, and FERC if necessary, say several Colorado members
Tri-State reiterates commitment to comply with all State of Colorado resource planning, carbon reduction and renewable energy requirements

December 20, 2019 – Westminster, CO – Several Colorado members of not-for-profit cooperative power supplier Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association expressed support today for Tri-State’s filings at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Tri-State seeks dismissal of a complaint filed by two of its members and will seek a declaratory order to confirm that it is subject to FERC jurisdiction.

FERC already has exclusive jurisdiction over wholesale utilities like Tri-State. FERC rate regulation ensures the wholesale power cooperative is not subject to differing rate and contract regulation in four separate states, inevitably leading to rate instability for Tri-State’s members and their consumers.

A complaint by two members seeking CPUC intervention regarding their long-term power supply contracts should be dismissed on the grounds that the state commission lacks jurisdiction, the association said today.

“Tri-State remains committed to complying with all state requirements for resource planning, carbon reduction and meeting renewable energy standards. We believe the issue at hand, however, is a matter of federal jurisdiction and is not within the purview of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission,” said Duane Highley, CEO for Tri-State.

Tri-State noted that as of September 3, 2019, it is subject to rate regulation by the FERC, which preempts state regulation of Tri-State’s wholesale rates.
In its filing with the CPUC today, Tri-State noted that a decision on the members’ filings is not ripe for adjudication. Both LPEA and United Power are willingly and actively participating in contract discussions with Tri-State’s other members in a Contract Committee at the same time they are attempting to litigate at the CPUC.
“We believe the Colorado commission should dismiss these complaints,” said Rick Gordon, director of Falcon, Colo.-based Mountain View Electric Association and Board Chairman of Tri-State. “Working together, our members are quickly and decisively addressing contractual concerns.”
“We need stable, uniform rates for all of our members, no matter in which state they’re located,” said Scott Wolfe, board director of Monte Vista, Colo.-based San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative, vice-chairman of the Tri-State board of directors and chair of Tri-State’s Contract Committee. “It’s important that decisions like this are made by our members or the FERC, either of which take all member interests into account in all four states.”
“The Colorado Public Utilities Commission should never hear these complaints,” said Jack Johnston, CEO of La Junta, Colo-based Southeast Colorado Power Association, and vice-chair of Tri-State’s Contract Committee. “Contracts are central to how members work together within Tri-State, and if our membership cannot resolve a contract issue, then the issue must be addressed at the FERC, which has sole jurisdiction.”
Separately, Tri-State also announced today that it is refiling for tariff authority with the FERC; an initial application was dismissed without prejudice in early October 2019. While it is FERC jurisdictional, Tri-State is also asking the FERC for a declaratory order to confirm that it is subject to FERC jurisdiction under the Federal Power Act. Tri-State’s filing is being processed and will be dated by the FERC as being officially filed on Monday, December 23.

About Tri-State: Tri-State is a not-for-profit association of 43 member electric cooperatives and public power districts in four states that together deliver reliable, affordable and responsible power to more than a million rural electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the west. For more information about Tri-State and our Responsible Energy Plan, visit https://tristate.coop.

By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.