Tri-State highlights Responsible Energy Plan, strong performance at 68th Annual Meeting
August 5, 2020 – Westminster, CO – The continuing progress to implement its transformative Responsible Energy Plan, along with reports on strong operational and financial performance for 2019 and the election of officers, highlighted Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association’s 68th Annual Meeting, virtually held Wednesday from Westminster, Colo.
“Our goal is to remain the best and most competitive power supply option for our members,” said CEO Duane Highley. “Our long-term competitive advantage is being the most reliable, affordable, flexible and clean power supplier in the West.”
Tri-State is a not-for-profit power supply cooperative of 45 members, including 42 member electric cooperatives and public power districts in four states, that together deliver power to more than a million rural electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the West.
“2019 marked the beginning of a meaningful energy transition focused on delivering reliable, affordable and responsible power to our members,” said Tri-State Chairman Rick Gordon, who also serves as a director of Mountain View Electric Association (Limon, Colo.). “Our transition is accelerating, driven by our members, who together chose to change the direction and priorities for Tri-State.”
Responsible Energy Plan transforms Tri-State
Although implemented in early January of this year, Highley noted that the stage was set for the transformative Responsible Energy Plan throughout 2019. Tri-State announced the development of its plan on July 17, 2019, to transition to a cleaner energy portfolio, ensure reliability and increase member flexibility, with the goal to lower wholesale rates.
“Our Responsible Energy Plan and its success reflects the fact that we want to be best choice for a wholesale supplier for our members. We must be cleaner, more affordable and more reliable than any other option,” Highley said. “We still have much work to do, but in 2019 we changed the direction of our cooperative and we will continue on our mission to serve our members.”
On April 9, 2020, Tri-State’s board of directors, representing each utility member, approved a new partial requirements contract option to deliver to its utility members the flexibility to significantly increase local renewable energy development and the self-supply of power. Tri-State is currently working with its members to develop the policies and contracts to implement partial requirements. This effort was pursued throughout 2019, through a Contract Committee of all utility members.
Tri-State announced the outcomes of the Responsible Energy Plan on Jan. 15, 2020. The plan included six new renewable energy projects in Colorado and New Mexico, which along with two other projects previously announced in early 2019 and yet to be constructed, will result in more than 1 gigawatt of additional emissions-free renewable resources being added to Tri-State’s power supply portfolio by 2024.
By 2024, 50% of the energy consumed within Tri-State’s cooperative family will be renewable.
Also in early January 2020 and as part of the Responsible Energy Plan, Tri-State announced the retirement of its remaining New Mexico coal-fired power plant by the end of 2020, and its remaining Colorado coal plants and coal mine by 2030.
Strong financial and operational performance in 2019
In 2019, Tri-State maintained stable wholesale rates to its members while returning $30 million to its members in patronage capital.
“Tri-State is utilizing its financial strengths and positioning itself for success in an industry that is rapidly changing,” said Stuart Morgan, treasurer and director at Wheat Belt Public Power District (Sidney, Neb.). “Tri-State has goals with our Responsible Energy Plan to transform our power supply, as well as goals to increase member contract flexibility and reduce rates. Tri-State can anchor itself on the strong foundation built by this membership to achieve our newly formed goals, and be a competitive power supplier for our members into the future.”
“With stable rates into 2021, Tri-State will have rates flat for five years,” added Morgan.
Tri-State returned $30 million dollars patronage capital to its membership in 2019. The return of capital is hallmark of the not-for-profit cooperative business model. Since inception in 1952, Tri-State has allocated approximately $1.4 billion of patronage capital to members, and has returned $415 million to its members, including $100 million in the last four years.
Member revenue held steady at $1.24 billion in 2019, and member megawatt hour sales were held steady when compared year over year. Net margins were $45 million. The five-year growth in member revenue was 9%, which is strong compared to many other generation and transmission cooperatives. Tri-State’s growth can be attributed to the diversity in consumer bases and economic sectors, as well as growth in several member systems’ territories.
Tri-State is the third largest generation and transmission cooperative by asset size in the U.S., ranking behind Oglethorpe Power and Basin Electric respectively, with assets of $5.3 billion.
Tri-State Executive Committee officers elected
Following the annual meeting, the executive committee of the association’s board of directors was seated, including the six officers and three at-large positions.
Gordon, representing Tri-State member co-op Mountain View Electric Association (Limon, Colo.), was re-elected chairman for an eleventh consecutive term. Gordon originally joined Tri-State’s board in 1994 and served as vice chairman for 13 years prior to first being elected chairman in 2010. He has served on Mountain View’s board since 1992.
Tim Rabon, who has represented Otero County Electric Cooperative (Cloudcroft, N.M.) on the Tri-State board since 2014, was elected to the position of Vice President.
Julie Kilty, who has represented Wyrulec Company (Torrington, Wyo.) on the Tri-State board since 2012, was re-elected to the position of secretary.
Stuart Morgan, who has represented Wheat Belt Public Power District (Sidney, Neb.) on the Tri-State board since 2007, was re-elected treasurer – a position he first assumed in 2012.
Matt Brown, who has represented High Plains Power (Riverton, Wyo.) on the Tri-State board since 2010, was re-elected assistant secretary for his eighth term. Scott Wolfe, representing San Luis Valley REC (Monte Vista, Colo.) was elected assistant secretary. Wolfe joined Tri-State’s board of directors in 2008.
The Executive Committee’s three at-large positions were seated with incumbents Wayne Connell representing Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative (Mountainair, N.M.) and Don Keairns representing San Isabel Electric Association (Pueblo West, Colo.), and Shawn Turner representing The Midwest Electric Cooperative (Grant, Neb.).
Tri-State is a not-for-profit cooperative of 45 members, including 42 member utility electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in four states, that together deliver reliable, affordable and responsible power to more than a million electricity consumers across nearly 200,000 square miles of the West. For more information about Tri-State and our Responsible Energy Plan, visit www.tristate.coop.