BREAKING NEWS: Tri-State applauds Colorado Public Utilities Commission decision
CPUC dismisses complaint filed by United Power and La Plata Electric Association
October 22, 2020 – Westminster, CO – Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association applauded a decision today by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to dismiss a complaint filed by two members that had asked the commission to set the cost to break their long-term power supply contracts.
“We are pleased that the Colorado Public Utilities Commission agrees that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over member withdrawal charges, and that questions of Colorado corporate law are a matter for the state courts,” said Tri-State CEO Duane Highley.
Tri-State also acknowledged the concerns expressed by commissioners as to future Tri-State activity before the CPUC, including new resource plan filing requirements.
“We look forward to fully engaging the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in the electric resource planning process, and we remain deeply committed to helping meet Colorado’s energy and environmental goals,” Highley said.
Tri-State currently is developing its electric resource plan to file with the CPUC in December 2020. The filing will demonstrate the not-for-profit power supply cooperative’s meaningful greenhouse gas reductions, as it retires its Colorado coal-fired generation and significantly increases renewable energy.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has exclusive jurisdiction over Tri-State’s wholesale rates and member exit charges, and preempted the CPUC on these matters. The FERC also has accepted a contract termination payment methodology, developed by Tri-State’s utility members, that determines the costs a Tri-State member would pay to withdraw from the generation and transmission cooperative. The methodology is in effect subject to refund, and has been referred to FERC’s hearing and settlement procedures.
Tri-State sought FERC rate regulation across the four states where it provides wholesale power and has members. FERC regulation provides more certainty as Tri-State implements its Responsible Energy Plan to increase member contract flexibility and to transition to a clean energy portfolio. This week, Tri-State filed with the FERC its community solar program that delivers additional opportunities to its members to develop local renewable resources.
Under FERC, Tri-State is regulated the same as the wholesale power businesses of other regional utilities, including Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy.
Tri-State’s board of directors took action at its July 2019 board meeting that would place the cooperative under wholesale rate regulation by the FERC. In September 2019, Tri-State added its first non-utility member, which made Tri-State rate jurisdictional to the FERC. The complaints filed at the CPUC by United Power and LPEA in November 2019 came after Tri-State became jurisdictional to the FERC. In an attempt to thwart FERC’s rate regulation of Tri-State, United Power and LPEA have asserted the addition of non-utility members violates state law. Tri-State strongly disagrees. “Tri-State’s board of directors appropriately added new members in accordance with Tri-State’s governing documents and Colorado corporate contract law,” said Tri-State CEO Duane Highley.
Tri-State is a not-for-profit cooperative of 45 members, including 42 utility electric distribution cooperative and public power district members 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 an, visit www.tristate.coop.